In Angel’s Wolf a vampire becomes fascinated with the seductive angel who rules Louisiana. But all is not what it appears to be in her court.
In Angels’ Judgment a hunter must track one of her own gone bad, while surviving the deadly tests placed in her way by the archangels themselves. Unexpected backup comes from a stranger who might just be the most lethal threat of all…
Plus FIRST TIME IN PRINT
In Angels’ Pawn a vampire hunter faces off against two rival factions and the angel manipulating them both, and a vampire whose help is not entirely selfless…
And NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED
In Angels’ Dance an angel trapped in the mountain stronghold of the Refuge finds herself under siege by a warrior angel from a martial court.
Has: The first story in the anthology really sets up the tone and feel – it expands the wider world of the Guild Hunter universe by focussing on the supporting and secondary characters that appeared in the series. In Angel’s Pawn, Ashwini, the guild huntress is on a mission to locate a missing vampire before an epic feud blows between opposing angel and vampire factions. She teams up reluctantly with the sexy and roguish cajun vampire Janvier who has offered to help her despite the fact she has hunted him in the past. This adds sexual frission between Ashwini and Janvier because there is a past history filled with friendly antagonism and unwelcome attraction which becomes full blown over the course of the story. I really loved how this played out, along with the twisty plot with the mystery which isn’t as clear cut as it seems. Although I wished there was more to the romance and even the story, because this felt more like a prequel short which hints of a full story in the future. But this was fun, sexy and sassy! I give it a B-
MinnChica: I have to say that this was my least favorite of the stories, and probably because with Singh, I am so used to there being more romance in the story. For me, this was more of foreplay – while it’s lots of fun to start, I like to get to the main event as well. There was a lot of cat and mouse being played between Ashwini and Janvier, and even though the sexual tension was off the charts, I wanted and expected to have a HEA, and that just wasn’t the case here. I have to say though Singh set up the series and world-building with this short novella with a bang! I give Angel’s Pawn a C
E: I really enjoyed the interaction between Ashwini and Janvier. Even though this novella focuses on the two of them it also serves to highlight just how cutthroat vampire and angelic politics are. This showed once again the differences between shorter lived humans and the extended lifetimes of the angels and the vampires they have created. Getting back to Ash and Janvier I loved how this novella continued their game of cat and mouse that we have caught glimpses of throughout the series. While this one does leave you with the idea that eventually the two of them will have a relationship it ends while they are still getting to know each other. I liked the slower pace and I can’t wait to find out what the two of them get into next. By no stretch of the imagination do I think that Janvier will stop doing things to make Ash’s life difficult but it is with the understanding that this is part of the courtship and keeping their “romance” alive. I give Angel’s Pawn a B+
Has: I think this was my second favourite story in the anthology. I loved how Sara and Deacon got together. The moment when they met, with Deacon in bad ass mode and seeing Sara on the hunt really showed different sides to their characters that I was accustomed to in the previous Guild Hunter books I read. The mystery plot-line was also tense and it left me guessing, but I think the romance albeit brief really helped to make this sparkle! I loved the ending and I hope we get more glimpses like this in the future because I do think Sara and Deacon are a great couple. I give Angel’s Judgement a B
MinnChica: This was also my second favorite story in the anthology. Ever since this was first released in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology, this has been one of my favorite stories in the entire Guild Hunters series. I absolutely LOVE and adored Sara and Deacon together. They kicked ass and took names and had super sexy times together. It was great to see Sara in a hunter role, especially since she’s normally seen as the Guild Director. I also liked seeing Deacon as the stole-cold killer he used to be. I thought their romance was absolutely incredible, and loved that he gave up something that he had been doing for years, so she could continue on the career path she wanted. The two of them melted my heart and continue to be one of my favorite couples in this world. I give Angels Judgement an A
E: Ooh Deacon and Sara….They are certainly a force to be reckoned with separately and together I felt sorry for anyone who came up against them. I loved how he was known as the person whose weapons all the Hunters wanted. Reading this I could understand why all the North American Hunters gave their loyalty to Sara. Watching her transform from one of the many hunters into the Guildmaster was very impressive. I loved how she decided to wear one of Deacon’s spinning saw-blades as her necklace pendant. Talk about sending a message. Deacon was also pretty impressive as he took care of what he needed to so that he could go to Sara knowing that he wasn’t leaving anything hanging that would make her job harder then necessary. I also loved how such a strong man willingly supported his love in her spotlight. I give Angel’s Judgement an A-
Has: In Angel’s Wolf, this was a more slower paced story with a more subtle tone, with a really sweet romance with its core. Noel is sent to the Angel’s court of New Orleans which is held by the angel Nimra. It was really refreshing to see an angel who felt more human although she was scary in her own way and Noel, who is very observant but recovering from a brutal attack that left him scarred deep down trying to find his place, connecting emotionally. The romance between them is very subtle and their attraction grows slowly but it was fitting especially on how their tragic pasts affected their characterisation. I did find the mystery plot wasn’t that tense or tense, but the real draw was the love story which was very sweet and tender. Although this wasn’t my overall favourite story in the anthology, I did enjoy the romance and the characters and wider ongoing subplots and how that tied in the series. I give Angel’s Wolf a C+
MinnChica: This was a slower paced novella and one that, like Has said, had a sweet romance to it. I loved the change of pace in this novella, how Singh was able to focus more on the romance, and the suspense portion of the plot. They were both done exceptionally well in my opinion, and I really enjoyed the interaction of these two. I liked the way that these two played off each other. Noel was able to come more to grips with his attack and torture with Nimra’s help and constant companionship. On the other hand, Nimra was able to cement her position in her court with him at her side, standing there to support her in any and every way possible. I liked having a look into other angel’s courts, and hope that we can see more of these characters in future books. I give Angel’s Wolf a B.
E: While sweeter and more innocent in some ways then Ms Singh’s other stories in this world Angel’s Wolf still packed quite a punch. I was really glad to see Noel who had been grievously tortured in Angel’s Blood regain his own. It was also refreshing to see Nimra, an angel, who held her court not through seduction, pain, fear but more through love and care yet she had the strength and will to hold and protect her court. The slow growth of trust on Noel’s part not just of Nimra but also of himself as a worthwhile man combined with Nimra’s realization that Raphael had sent her exactly who and what she needed in more ways then one was great to see. I think the ending of this novella was absolutely perfect. I give Angel’s Wolf an A.
Has: I think for me this was my favourite story in the anthology. I really loved this prequel story of Galen who is one of Raphael’s Cadre and Jessamy, the earthbound angel who is the historian and teacher of the angels. The romance between them certainly sizzled and I love how possessive and determined Galen was towards Jessamy which helped to crack the emotional walls around her. The romance was sweet, passionate and full of real depth.
MinnChica: I absolutely LOVED this story, it was by far my favorite of the anthology. The romance between Galen and Jessamy was smoking hot, full of wonderful tension and a beautiful romance to top it off. I thought Galen’s possessive ways and constant pushing at Jessamy to be better, not just accept life laying down and fighting for what she wanted was so endearing. While he came across as an alphahole to Jessamy, I thought it was all very sweet in Galen’s own way. absolutely LOVED it.
E: This was such a contrast in opposites! The much older, unable to fly, sweet, trusted, innocent Jessamy and the young, brutal, unknown, militant Galen were wonderful to watch together. Jessamy’s initial view of Galen in all his martial skill and Galen noticing her despite his focus on Dimitri was just WOW. The two of them did not have an easy meeting of the minds so to speak. Galen offended without meaning to because he never learned how to soften his words and so addressed things others left unsaid. Jessamy insulted without meaning to because she did not understand how ferociously Galen regarded his words and his actions. Galen refused to let Jessamy continue to go through life without living and Jessamy was able to give Galen all the softness he never experienced while growing up yet as a friend/lover not as a mother/teacher.
Has: I loved that aspect too! I think with angels especially, some vulnerability helps to ground them and we definitely got that with Jessamy and Galen whose strengths and weaknesses helped to balance each other out. I also loved the hints of backstory about Illium and his human lover and how he got his nickname and Raphael’s cementing his power base as an Archangel and Michaela’s rise to Archangel status. Despite this being a novella, it really felt like a full book, because so much happened but the romance was at the centre. I think my favourite is the ending when Jessamy and Galen who are separated, correspond to each other and their feelings become even stronger with the realisation that they truly want to be together. Angel’s Dance is a passionate love story filled with nuanced moments of tenderness and heart-felt emotions. How Galen outmanuvered Jessamy’s emotional resolve and how he realised he found his own place in Raphael’s new court was a true delight! I felt that I got caught up in an angel’s flight along with them! I give Angel’s Dance a B+
MinnChica: I agree that so many things happened, and it felt like a full length novel. I thought the backstory with Illium was wonderful as well, and loved getting a better glimpse into the history of Raphael’s Seven. I can’t wait until we get the stories from Illium, Jason and the others. The history from each man was wonderful to see, and I am anxiously awaiting more! I have a feeling that the story between Galen and Jessamy will be one that I will go back and read time and time again when I need a great story to act as a pick-me-up. I give Angel’s Dance an A.
E: I did love their long distance courtship and how Jessamy and Galen exchanged letters while Galen consolidated the role he would play in Raphael’s fledgeling court. I also enjoyed the glimpses of some of Raphael’s Seven and Raphael himself when they were younger and in some ways still retained some of their innocence. Even if it was only evident when they were around Jessamy and her memories of them as young children. I think Galen changed from the cold brute introduced in Angel’s Blood to yet another character I adored when not only did he take Jessamy flying but he made it possible for her to leave the Refuge for the first time ever! I continue to be in awe of Ms Singh’s knack at taking characters I initially disliked and fleshing them out into one that I can’t wait to see again. I think this novella contained everything I love about Ms Singh’s romances. I give Angel’s Dance an A
Has: If you didn’t get the chance to read the previous stories, this is a fantastic collection of stories which help to expand the focus of the Guild Hunter universe. I really enjoyed the variety of different toned romances which packed an emotional punch!
MinnChica: Even if you have read the three previous stories as separate novellas, this book is worth it for Angel’s Dance alone. I loved that the stories in this book were all so diverse, and there was a little something for everyone. Singh continues to create a dynamite world and stories within the Guild Hunter Universe.
E: There are times when I need a fix, not a long fix but a short intense fix from a particular author who has the ability to take me into such a completely different world that when I come back to mine I am back feeling refreshed. Ms Singh is one of those authors and the fact that I can not read her Guild Hunter novellas in a single collection is wonderful. I enjoyed re-reading the first three and loved the inclusion of Angel’s Dance. Like both Has and MinnChica said all four have a different tone to them so you can read them back to back and not feel like you are going back over worn territory. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
This review was originally posted at www.thebookpushers.com. Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the author
James and Olivia F...moreThis review was originally posted at www.thebookpushers.com. Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the author
James and Olivia Forster have been happily married for many years. A harmless kink here or there spices up their love life, but they can’t imagine the kinks they’ll encounter while sneaking off to their beach house for a long hot weekend.
Anso Vitul has ruled the wereseals for one short month. He hardly needs his authority questioned because he’s going crazy from mating heat. Anso’s best friend and male lover Ty offers to help him find the human mate his genes are seeking. To Ty’s amazement, Anso’s quest leads him claim not one partner but a pair. Ty would object, except he too finds the Forsters hopelessly attractive. I got this blurb from the author’s website here.
Hidden Depths is the second in Ms Holly’s Hidden world following after Hidden Talents which I reviewed here. Unlike the majority of other series I read, which are set in the same world and have some reoccurring characters or events that provide continuity, this seemed much more of a standalone novel. Yes, it was set in the same world but dealt primarily with a different species and environment not to mention an entirely different theme. I will admit when I read the blurb and saw that this featured a married couple I had my doubts but I should have trusted that Ms Holly would make it work.
Ms Holly does not pull any erotic punches with the main characters coming on scene and pretty quickly enjoying an intimate moment with their respective partner. Those encounters displayed not only what types of things the characters enjoyed but also the emotional trust and caring they had within their relationships. I think their caring relationships were the key that allowed the merging of the couples to work. If any individual had been less committed to their partner’s happiness I think the outcome would have been entirely different. I liked that while Ms Holly did use the ‘fated mate’ trope she did not use that trope as the final solution but as the reason for meeting. I also liked how both James and Olivia experienced what the wereseals could give them at the same time but in separate locations. That continued to keep them on an even level with their relationship with each other.
The inclusion of several twists in this story helped elevate it above the increasingly more familiar multi-partner erotic romance. The woman scorned, while determined to get her own back, did not go down the typically well-worn path. As I mentioned earlier the idea of fated mates was not the ultimate answer. Ms Holly also did not make the focus of this as three close male friends/relatives all interested in sharing a single female but more about four people initially two separate couples building a relationship with each other. And then there was the setting…I have always be fascinated with the sea and this certainly fed my imagination. The wereseal world was full of some pretty intriguing creatures and seascapes. I wish we could have explored it and some of the wereseal culture a bit more.
My only quibble is that it seemed some things were accepted a bit too easily not just by the main characters but by the entire ensemble as a whole. Aside from the group of dissenters, which included “the woman scored”, everyone else went along with and loved what James and Olivia brought to their world.
Review was posted at www.thebookpushers.com on 17 Jan 11. Publisher: Pocket Books Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher
The Larkin...moreReview was posted at www.thebookpushers.com on 17 Jan 11. Publisher: Pocket Books Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher
The Larkin sisters are used to hearing whispers behind their backs. Being raised by hippie parents in the small resort town of Barringer’s Pass, Colorado, they were always considered oddballs, and for a while, they did everything they could to earn the name. But now, older and wiser, they’re discovering that it’s not so great to be the wild child, and are struggling to earn a new place for themselves in town.
When Maggie Larkin resists the come-ons of a sleazy actor in town to shoot a film, she pisses off more than a pretty boy and his manager. Turns out that Rafe DeLuca isn’t just a movie star…he’s possibly a killer, and Maggie’s landed herself in more trouble than she could imagine. Enter Cal Drummond, cop extraordinaire, who’s been trailing DeLuca himself for weeks, convinced that his recently murdered sister is one of Rafe’s victims. He’s determined not to let another woman be victimized by the dangerous Rafe, and if that means sticking like glue to Maggie, so be it.
Maggie and Cal seem like perfect opposites, but as we all know…opposites attract! This blurb came from Goodreads.
When we were offered this book to review I read the blurb and it seemed pretty interesting so I accepted the request. I happen to have a soft spot for characters who are trying to redeem themselves or to distance themselves from their less then stellar behavior in the past. I also liked the thought of a murder mystery and a grieving bound to be overprotective cop. Unfortunately after finishing Silver Sparks I still haven’t decided if I liked the book or not.
I enjoyed seeing the bonds between Maggie and her two sisters along with the relationship between Cal and surviving much younger sister. Each was determined to protect the others and willing to do anything to get revenge on Rafe. But some aspects of the family ties didn’t ring consistent. Maggie mentions that her reputation was an attempt to live up to what people were saying because of her hippie parents, yet she never demonstrated any sense of resentment or strain with her parents when she visited them later in the book. I found that odd because on other occasions she was hurt and humiliated by that same reputation. One of Maggie’s two sisters, Sophie, was raised completely separately so she never painted with the same reputation yet when her professional and personal world fell apart due to the influence of Rafe and his family’s money Sophie didn’t have any reaction except anger and a determination to help expose Rafe for what he was.
As characters Maggie and Cal remained pretty consistent. I could certainly see the personality trait that made Maggie decide to live up to her reputation. I liked seeing how she didn’t just completely flip a switch and become a completely different person when she decided to live respectably. Cal was certainly fixated on Rafe and determined to bring his sister’s killer to justice but based on his behavior I kept thinking that his sister was killed years ago instead of within a month or so. Unfortunately I never connected with either Maggie or Cal so I was never sucked into what they were experiencing. I actually found Cal’s sister more interesting.
Ms Ambrose employed some interesting twists in the murder mystery portion of Silver Sparks but I thought some of the things that happened were a bit too coincidental and tied the threads up too nicely in the later portion of the book. Due to my background reading murder mysteries I personally enjoy getting clues along the way and then having the “aha” moment when the puzzle fits into place.
Publisher: Pocket Books Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher
With two months left to find a husband to fulfill her grandmother’s ultimatum, Lady Celia Sharpe sets her sights on three eligible bachelors. Becoming betrothed to one of these wealthy, high-ranking men will surely prove her capable of getting married, so hopefully the wedding itself won’t be necessary for Celia and her siblings to receive their inheritance. Step two of her audacious plan is hiring the dangerously compelling Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter to investigate the three men she’s chosen. But with Lady Celia bedeviling Jackson’s days and nights, the last thing he wants is to help her find a husband. And when she recalls shadowed memories that lead his investigation into her parents’ mysterious deaths in a new direction—putting her in danger—Jackson realizes the only man he wants Celia to marry is himself! This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I usually find it bittersweet to read the last book in a series I have enjoyed. Bitter because that means the series is over and sweet because I get all the answers *rubs hands together*. A Lady Never Surrenders is the final book of Ms Jeffries Hellions of Halstead Hall series. I reviewed book four, To Wed A Wild Lord, back in November here. I was really looking forward to reading this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to know what happened with the suspicious deaths of the Hellions’ parents. And given that I had predicted this particular couple *happy dance* I wanted to see how their relationship was going to develop.
I have to admit that I felt sorry for Celia. Thinking about the amount of internal pressure she had to be under thinking that if she didn’t either marry within the next two months or convince her grandmother, Hetty, to rescind her ultimatum then all of her beloved siblings would lose any chance of inheriting. Celia also had to deal with the fact that no man had ever expressed interest in her before word got out that she was an heiress so how could she hope to find someone who actually wanted her and not her money? Not to mention that she enjoyed a lot of activities that were considered extremely unladylike and her future husband probably wouldn’t agree to let her continue.
Jackson on the other hand seemed like he was caught between a rock and a hard place. Hired to do a job, forced to investigate the potential suitors of the woman he wanted and unable to offer for her himself based on their life circumstances. He also had to deal with the fact that she seemed bound and determined to drive him absolutely insane without really trying. And then there was the pesky issue of what appeared to be a double murder instead of a covered-up murder/suicide.
I made the mistake of thinking that the very meddlesome Grandmother Hetty would have softened given the fact that she now had a gentleman caller but she continued to play a significant role. I already considered her a force to be reckoned with but when she went to work to prevent Celia from making what she considered a horrible mistake I got to see what she was really made of. Those couple of scenes and her refusal to consider anything else made it evident how she was able to care for all five children and create the family business into the empire it became.
I enjoyed the balance between the murder mystery and the building relationship between Celia and Jackson. Both had their fair share of twists and turns while continuing to progress. My only quibble was that a few parts of the mystery were tied up a bit too conveniently but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment as a whole. I can’t talk anymore about “who done it” without spoiling not just this book but the entire series. Ms Jeffries kept me captivated between the humor, the smexy times, the mystery, the Grandmother, and watching both Celia and Jackson overcome scars that had been inadvertently caused by their loving family. Once again I recommend that you start with the first book because this one builds on actions that have taken place in all of the others.
Check back later today for an interview with Ms Jeffries!
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher via NetGalley
It is a spine-electrifying supernatural tale where a huge Southern States mansion contains one of the most terrifying, violent and indeed psychopathic ghosts to haunt any town. It is also a murder mystery – why did Robina Willets apparently kill all five of her young children, and her husband, before stabbing herself to death? And, if you are in the camp of believing that ‘justice …. just is not’, then this will have you frothing at the mouth with righteous social fury. Add to that the vision of two exceptionally beautiful girls lying on a landing stage in the middle of a secluded lake, sleeping naked in the sun …. …. and then see if you can find any consecutive ten minutes in this book when you don’t at least snicker at the heroine Leeann’s sly, caustic, sometimes-knowing sometimes ‘too stupid to live’ commentary. This blurb came from Goodreads.
The introduction to this story comes in the form of media clippings. I liked that technique of providing snapshots of key past history as seen through the eyes of reporters. What the reporters thought was important and knowing that some parts would be sensationalized or sanitized depending on which way they happened to be leaning at the time certainly helped bring me into the story. Then I met, who in a romance would be the heroine but here was more of a narrator, Leeann. I am still not sure what I think about her.
As a person I didn’t like Leeann and when I was reading this with the mindset that it was a romance with supernatural elements I almost DNF’d it due to something that she did. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have caught reference to that. But by that time I was about halfway through and I really wanted to know what really happened in the mansion. In other words my wish to know the mystery about the ghost and the murders was stronger. As I kept reading I stopped looking at The Wedding Gift as anything romantic but more of, like the blurb says, a murder mystery with supernatural elements.
I lived in the south for a while so between Leeann’s thoughts and her descriptions of actions of others I certainly picked up on the southern flavor. This book was full of family tradition, especially the kind of tradition that shows you have money. I am not talking that you can afford a nice place but I mean money like you have THE major business in town and have since that business was started generations ago. When you are in that position in a small town things tend to happen pretty much as you want them to happen except when they involve a ghost and your old family home. I really couldn’t work up much sympathy for the Willets family because of certain things they accepted and condoned but I think some of those things happen in most families that have more money then they know how to spend.
I didn’t quite expect all of the twists in the murder mystery but I did think that it wasn’t as straightforward as the media clippings made it seem. As things unfolded they also brought home that in a closed society someone knows the dirty secrets it just usually isn’t worth their while to let them out. In this case it took several people, with a strong motivation to start putting the pieces together and the vengeful ghost provided the final touches. I also liked how the novel itself closed with yet more media clippings providing a sense of closure.
After I finished The Wedding Gift I realized that while this book contains elements from genres that I read on a pretty regular basis I am not used to their combination in this particular way so this was outside of my reading comfort zone. I think if I had started reading this as a murder mystery I wouldn’t have struggled with the narrator as much. Even after having written this review I find I still have mixed feeling about it.
Ms McKenna, no I wasn’t scared reading this, BUT I don’t plan to visit any potentially haunted mansions anytime soon.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: March 6th How we got this book: From the publisher via Netgalley
As a second daughter, Grace Andreas never had to worry about the intrigues of the Elder Races. But when her sister, Petra, and Petra’s husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister’s two young children – neither of which she is prepared for.
Yet, she is not alone. Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn prince of House Marid – driven by his genuine caring for the children – has decided to make himself a part of the household both as their guardian and as an exasperating counterpoint to Grace’s impudence toward the Elder Races.
But when an attempt is made on Grace’s life, she realizes that Khalil is the only one who can protect her – and offer her more than a mortal man… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
MinnChica: Thea Harrison has quickly become one of my favorite paranormal romance authors with the Elder Races series, and I’ve quickly fallen head over heels in love with this series. After the third book in the series, I was alternatively looking forward to and apprehensive of this book. I loved and adored Rune in the last book, and Khalil is nothing like him. I was a little worried that the move from the pop-culture, easy-go-lucky Rune to the stuffy and uber-formal Khalil would be too big of a transition for me to follow. While it took me awhile to get on the Khalil train, once I was fully in his corner, this story ended up rocking my world.
E: Like MinnChica mentioned, Ms Harrison is one of my auto-buy, pre-order authors that I also have to notify my family when she has a new release. The Elder Races series is one I go back and re-read without any loss of enjoyment. I was really looking forward to seeing what Khalil was going to do and how he was going to deal with Grace. I wasn’t sure what to think of him as he was fulfilling Carling’s requests so it was great to watch grace and the children break through his shell. I have placed Khalil up on the same level as Dragos. *grin*
MinnChica: I loved the moments between Khalil and the kids. So often in romance novels, when there are children involved, the kids tend to take a VERY backseat role in the story. But here, they seemed to play an integral role in softening Khalil, providing common ground for him and Grace to agree on and fight for. It was so sweet to see their little family change and morph as the story went on. I absolutely loved that. I also really liked the romance between these two. Although Khalil is very old school and set in his Djinn ways, he was also capable of letting Grace take the reigns when she proved to be the more capable. They have phenomenal chemistry between them that gave way for sexy moments and lots of sexual tension.
E: Chemistry oh my goodness. I had to open the doors, windows, and turn on the fan! I really enjoyed seeing the growth in all of the central characters. From Grace learning how to deal with her powers, the changes in her life, and how she can actually run her life instead of letting someone else run it for her. Khalil and dealing with feelings, sensations that mortals have that djinn don’t, and a different type of politics. Then you have the children dealing with their grief, the doggy-cat, and just trying to be children. That entire combination just tugged at my heart strings and I found myself cheering as their bonds grew tighter.
MinnChica: One of the other things I absolutely love about this series as a whole is how quickly it moves. There is always a million things going on and the overall story arc involving ALL the players is constantly chugging along and changing as alliances are made and broken. I loved seeing more of Dragos and Pia, Rune and Carling, and getting introduced to more of the Djinn. I can’t wait to see where Harrison takes this series, as the potential for greatness seems to grow exponentially with each book. I would have loved to see more of the inner workings of the witches covens, and can only hope we can see more of it in the future.
E: Those glimpses of previous couples were a lot of fun. I really liked seeing Dragos uncertain in more ways then just dealing with Pia although that uncertainly I think will lead to some potentially world changing events. With each installment Ms Harrison provides us with a glimpse into a very complex world. The politics between groups not to mention their own internal conflicts keep me on the edge of my seat. Whoever said that politics can be deadly certainly wasn’t joking and the chance for collateral damage is incredibly high.
MinnChica: All in all I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying Oracle’s Moon. Although Rune still had my heart, I enjoyed the hell out of Khalil and Grace. These two bonded on an emotional level that had me so wrapped up I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. The series continues to amaze me and I can’t wait for more and more Elder Races books. Any paranormal romance fan who has yet to pick up Thea Harrison needs to head to the nearest bookstore pronto! I give Oracle’s Moon a B+
E: Like I said earlier Khalil is up with Dragos for me as one of my favorite heroes of this series. I loved Oracle’s Moon and couldn’t resist teasing my family when I finished reading the ARC. I second MinnChica’s recommendation that all paranormal romance fans rush to the store and start this series. It fills all of my requirements! I give Oracle’s Moon an A. (less)
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out today How I got this book: From the publisher via NetGalley
It’s hard to keep a secret in the small town of Pike, Montana, but veterinarian Margot McDougal and sheriff Roy Lee Hanson managed to keep their relationship on the sly for months. Margot cares for Roy Lee, but the last thing she needs is to worry about local gossip while she’s busy running her clinic and dealing with the loss of her beloved father.
Roy Lee can’t wait to tell the world that he loves Margot. He respected her decision to keep their affair quiet—until now. It’s time for everyone to know Margot is his gal…especially Ryan Martin, her new assistant. He’s formed an attachment to Margot and Roy Lee is sure the city boy’s unexplained appearance in Pike means he’s up to no good.
Margot just wants to help Ryan fit in, and Roy Lee’s jealousy soon drives a wedge between them. A wedge that only increases when Margot is roped into Ryan’s secret, too…. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I was browsing NetGalley when I saw the title. I am a fan of westerns so I took a look at the blurb and decided to request it. I didn’t know until I visited the author’s website after receiving the book that this was actually the third in the Sisters of McDougal Ranch series. Cue my OCD wincing but I decided to go ahead and give it a try but unfortunately despite having some elements that I tend to enjoy, Margot’s Lawman didn’t work for me.
I enjoyed the small town setting and the close-knit families. I also liked how the central couple had gone from friends to lovers sometime in the past. I don’t know if that transition was shown in the previous two books but I didn’t need to see that portion. Their previously existing long friendship was mentioned more then once along with the fact that Roy Lee was also friends with the entire McDougal family. It was good to see the McDougal sisters pushing each other to go back and work on attaining their dreams after the death of their father, another event that occurred previously but it has played a significant role in this series.
Roy Lee was too good to be true. He was incredibly sweet and never pushed back at Margot’s controlling ways. Even when she was finally able to make him mad he still ended up basically apologizing for being upset. He also didn’t trust what he had to offer Margot and I never quite figured out where that self-doubt came from unless it stemmed from her requirement to keep their relationship secret. While I felt that Roy Lee was a weak guy, the majority of my issues with this book were with the heroine. I really did not like Margot as a character.
She was a combination of TSTL (without life-threatening events happening) and self-centered. To my way of thinking if you have left your small town for college and then come back you will have acquired enough of a worldly education to be able to tell when someone is putting the moves on you. I also think that even if you are keeping your relationship hidden you can discourage another person’s attentions, eating private meals with them does not work. When your significant other manages to convince you that the other person is hitting on you I don’t think you should take the other person’s side. When you have effectively betrayed your partner, no not by cheating, I don’t think you have the right to be all upset when they need time away from you and don’t want to talk to you for a while after that.
This book also brought up something that I have been wondering since I had a discussion with one of my fellow bookpushers. We tend to get upset when the hero after wronging the heroine doesn’t produce a good groveling scene to work his way back into her good graces. But I haven’t seen very many women have to do, “the grovel,” when they were the ones who screwed up. Are we accepting a double standard? I know I certainly felt cheated out of a good groveling scene from Margot in this book.
Basically, while I enjoyed the setting and the family dynamics my annoyance with the heroine only grew as the book progressed. By the end I wasn’t able to buy into their HEA because I felt that while Roy Lee would do everything he could to make her happy, she didn’t have the same devotion to him outside of their sexual relationship.
Harry Smith is a lone wolf, and he likes it that way. When he’s targeted to be co-alpha of the local pack, there is only one thing he can do to maintain his freedom: flee. But it’ll take a miracle to stay a step ahead of shifters in their own territory. June Travis has been in love with Harry for years, but he doesn’t know her real identity. He sees her as the sweet owner of the local tearoom—the facade June presents to humans and werewolves to keep them from finding out she’s a witch. She may not be able to offer Harry a miracle, but she can help him escape. Harry is drawn to this new side of June, and not just because he’s grateful for her help. With her magic temporarily hiding Harry from his pursuers, the witch and the wolf explore their mutual attraction. But there are consequences for witches who bed down with wolves… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I am pretty sure that I heard of Pack and Coven from the Saturday Snippets, which are very dangerous, and added it to my book release spreadsheet. I hadn’t made a note of which publisher so I was surprised when I was browsing through the February Carina Press titles on NetGalley and found it there. I couldn’t resist requesting it because I mean werewolves, witches and the fact that the two shouldn’t mix…
Ms Wallace took several aspects of werewolf and witch lore that I am familiar with and gave them some interesting twists. As I was reading I found that I kept looking for the next twist because they were sprinkled in. Her world-building gradually unfolded and it seemed like every time I thought I had the world all figured out something new popped up. I can’t really talk about the specifics of the twists because they also formed integral portions of the plot. Both the werewolves and witches demonstrated that they would do whatever it took for the survival of the masses. ‘Whatever’ certainly stretched to include what we might call drastic measures, which was both a blessing and a curse. I liked how tradition demonstrated it would cut both ways.
I did have a few issues with the characters. I thought that both Harry and June had some TSTL moments. I think some of those were driven by their own natures and a strong dependence only on what they grew up knowing. It appeared that despite the sexual attraction they really didn’t trust each other enough to effectively work together. I also thought one of the stumbling blocks to their relationship was fixed a little too easily; but that could be because when I am reading I like to see both internal and external conflict before the HEA, in this case the internal conflict seemed to be resolved before it became a conflict. I also wish the supporting cast, to include the villains, were fleshed out more. I did enjoy the various degrees of bad/evil in the villains and the additional twist, but they still seemed mainly two-dimensional.
Overall it was a decent read, one that I found I liked the world more then the characters. I give Pack and Coven a B-(less)
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the Publisher via Netgalley
Vynessa Somerton was just a girl when she learned about true evil. An encounter with the tyrannical Corporation scarred her body and exiled her to the crime-ridden S-District. Now an adult, Vyn creates glamours, worn by those who visit a virtual playground to live synthetic dreams. She’s tried to stay unnoticed by the Corporation, but her latest invention has brought their agents to her door. Paul Cross works for the Corporation, but he’s been plotting their downfall since they took his brother and replaced him with an imposter. Paul has a plan to get his brother back, but he’s going to need Vyn and her invention to carry it out. Vyn agrees to help Paul, but their alliance shatters the barriers she’s put up to protect herself, tempting her to give in to desire. Just as Vyn starts to trust Paul and believe he wants her, scars and all, the Corporation prepares for its final move. Can Vyn trust Paul completely, or has he been using her all along? This blurb came from Carina Press.
I never know quite what I am going to get with a Kim Knox title, and I mean this in a good way. I will look at the title, read the blurb and how I think Ms Knox is going to take me there is never how it really goes which I love. If a book is too predictable for me along the journey then I find myself losing interest. I have never lost interest in an of Ms Knox’s books so when I saw that she had a new release coming out from Carina Press I had to request it for review. Once again Ms Knox took me on an exciting journey.
The world that Vyn lives in is controlled by hungry mega-conglomerates that ruled the planet. Britain in this particular world is ruled for the Corporation, which has a very exclusive complex virtual system where your access to different areas is directly related to how important you are to the Corporation. Of course in those different areas there are different “amusements” available all of which contribute to how much the Corporation controls you. If you are part of the Corporation you are one of the haves, the elite. You live in secluded expansive mansions with bodyguards and everything that money can buy. As one of the elite you also have to be free of physical defects to include scarring from any physical accident because you have money to buy all the skill a doctor has. The Corporation controls everything to include randomly grabbing and replacing people with replacements that look like/sound like the original but aren’t. If you happen to visibly notice or mention the switch you put yourself at risk for being replaced. No one knows what happens to the original but they are never seen again.
Obviously not everyone can be part of the Corporation. S-district is one of the places that the non-elite live. It is pretty bad but could be worse. Vyn used to be part of the elite but after an encounter with some sadistic upper level members of the Corporation she was left with a network of silver scars all over her body. Despite her family’s money the doctors were unable to remove them so she has become an outcast. Living in S-district Vyn tries to stay out of sight while making a living providing cosmetic enhancements otherwise known as glamour to people’s mental avatars. Part of the Corporations rules about playing in their virtual world is that they have to appear as themselves with only the addition of legal glamour. Legal glamour is tagged so anyone who looks can see that they have altered their physical appearance. Vyn develops and refines illegal glamour while working on the holy grail of virtual programmers. She is trying to perfect what is known as simulacrum which would allow a person to seamlessly appear as someone else to the virtual mind of the Corporation. Anyone who could achieve that could set their conditions for the rest of their life.
Vyn is testing her attempt at a simulacrum when she first encounters Paul Cross. The two of them both had reasons not to trust each other and while Paul knows more about Vyn then she thinks neither of them is prepared to face what the Corporation has in store for them. As I mentioned earlier how Ms Knox never takes the journey I am expecting with her work. She threw several twists into this one some of which made me glad I don’t live in a fully wired world. One of the things I enjoyed is how Paul and Vyn traded being the person who had to take charge to ensure that they were able to escape the grip of the Corporation. Overall the world-building, the twists, and how Vyn grew were what carried this book for me.
Publisher: HQN Books Publish Date: March 27th How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley
He never saw her coming…
Spencer Lark already knows too many secrets about Arizona Storm, including the nightmare she survived and her resulting trust issues. But in order to expose a smuggling ring—and continue avenging his own tragic past—the bounty hunter reluctantly agrees to make Arizona a decoy. Yet nothing has equipped him for her hypnotic blend of fragility and bravery, or for the protective instincts she stirs in him.
Arizona wants to reclaim her life, which means acting as bait to lure the enemy into a trap. Sure it’s dangerous, especially with a partner as distractingly appealing as Spencer. But as their plan—and their chemistry—shifts into high gear, Arizona may discover there’s an even greater risk in surrendering her heart to a hero…. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: One of my fellow bookpushers *cough*MinnChica*cough* pushed the first of Ms Foster’s Men Who Walk The Edge of Honor series on me a while ago. I am forced to admit that she did a good job pushing. I read When You Dare, book 1, and then glomped my way through Trace of Fever and Savor the Danger, books two and three. When I first met Arizona I was really rooting for her to heal and find her way so I was very excited to see that book four was going to be her story. I had noticed throughout the three previous books that Spencer kept showing up and seemed to have his eye on Arizona but I never knew what made him tick. I have to say that I think The Perfect Storm was well worth the wait. Some of it was predictable but Ms Foster included some twists that I didn’t expect.
MinnChica: I would apologize for getting you hooked on these books, but I’m not. So… =P I’ve long been a fan of the total alpha hero who takes his duties as a man to the extreme, and I can always count on Foster to do that with her heroes. Spencer was no exception. He was strong, set in his morals and values and would do anything to protect those he loves. He was the perfect type of hero that I adore reading about, and Arizona was the kind of heroine who could kick butt and takes names right along side of him. I adore this series, especially since it brings to light some of the problems with human trafficking, and this book didn’t disappoint.
E: I have had to take mandatory classes on Combating Human Trafficking and I have to say I wish they would make this series mandatory reading to replace the class because it takes that subject and personalizes it. Like MinnChica said you have strong men and women who will do everything possible to stop trafficking. On top of the real world issues we got a great romance with the primary characters both growing and adjusting to each other and some views into the lives of previous heroes and heroines. One other thing that I really loved was how the women who had been in Spencer’s life previously were never maligned but instead were valued and treated like they meant something.
MinnChica: I think the romance in this book was very different and unique from the typical romance novel. Arizona has such a brutal and horrific past that she is almost child-like in her relationships. She is somewhat selfish and so goal-oriented in getting rid of traffickers one at a time, she doesn’t really make the time or effort to build healthy adult relationships. Yet Spencer is one of the few people she trusts to have her back and keep her safe. From that tiny bud of trust, they develop a friendship. Spencer helps her to deal with and face some of the issues in her past, and over the course of the book they become this sweet and somewhat innocent couple. It was not the typical romance journey, but a beautiful one at the same time.
E: I was really touched by Spencer’s patience and persistence towards Arizona. He knew what he wanted, well what he thought he wanted *grin* and steadily moved towards getting it. He never betrayed Arizona’s trust yet he also never kept what she was doing away from her adoptive family. One of the many scenes with Spencer that I really enjoyed is when he agreed to go swimming with Arizona and stick right next to her instead of just keeping her in sight. She had admitted her well-deserved fear of swimming and without ridiculing her, he went along with her request. On the other side Arizona did her part to continue trusting Spencer and to decide what she wanted. She decided to take risks and to give Spencer the opportunity to prove what he said. I was afraid for a while that she was going to make a TSTL move but thanks to Spencer’s neighbor that didn’t come to pass.
MinnChica: I loved the ending! Especially when Spencer was able to convince the other guys to trust that Arizona knew what she was doing and could take care of herself. It was such a wonderful way for him to support her, Arizona to prove herself and the guys to become convinced that she would fit right into their organization seamlessly. I don’t know if Foster is planning on continuing this series, and while I didn’t really see any additional characters left waiting in the wings for the next book, I can only hope that she continues to write books about this issue, in the way that she has with this series. I have loved and adored all the heroes, but I think Spencer became my favorite!
E: I agree with MinnChica, this did seem like the final book in this particular series because we haven’t been introduced to any other characters who have made their personalities known. I have really enjoyed the series and hope that Ms Foster continues to address this because it is one of those ugly things that no one wants to admit exists. On a more pleasant note while I was reading A Perfect Storm I really begrudged all of the interruptions because I was sucked to deeply into the story. Spencer’s attention, caring, and trust in Arizona’s abilities I think just epitomized the Alpha-male who was confident enough to let his loved one be herself. There were a few things that niggled at me, like the fact that Spencer never told Arizona that her favorite knife was also his and how quickly Arizona’s “big brothers” accepted Spencer’s intentions. Like I said earlier I did enjoy reading this. I give A Perfect Storm an A-
MinnChica: All in all I think this was a perfect ending to the series (at least what I assume is the end of the series). Everything about Spencer and Arizona’s relationship was so different and sweet and endearing that I was sucked into the characters and book and oblivious to everything around me. Spencer was the perfect hero, Arizona grew and developed so much as a character and I absolutely loved the happy ending to each couple we’ve seen so far. Foster has become one of my go-to authors after this series! I give A Perfect Storm an A- (less)
Publisher: Pocket Books Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher
A man too dangerous to live. . . After seven years outrunning enemies, friends, and his own soul-crushing memories, Brendan Douglas is risking everything on a desperate mission. He has vowed to thwart the evil mage Máelodor’s plans to unlock the past and reshape the future . . . unfortunately the precious treasure that is the key to success lies with a woman he jilted seven years before. A woman determined to find a life of her own. . . When her golden-eyed childhood hero abandoned her at the altar—disappearing in a storm of magic and mayhem, destruction, betrayal, and disaster—Elisabeth Fitzgerald struggled to overcome her humiliation and loss. Finally, she has found a new fiancé and a comfortable future. Then, the one man she thought she would never see again appears—among her wedding guests. Brendan Douglas has returned. An inescapable destiny. . . It’s not just that Elisabeth is promised to another; Brendan knows he is drawing her into terrible danger. But he cannot resist the bewitching, brave, wholly unexpected woman his youthful nemesis has become. He promised to sacrifice everything, but is he willing to sacrifice Elisabeth? This blurb came from the author’s website here.
Heir Of Danger is the conclusion of Alix Rickloff’s Heirs of Kilronan trilogy. Despite my OCD tendency that drives me to start every series with the first book, I went ahead and started with this one because I really liked the blurb and it reminded me of the epic fantasy romances I used to read. I highly recommend that you read the first two books before picking this one up. You can follow the action and infer some of what happened previously but there is a lot of back-story and world building that I think would add to the reader’s understanding and enjoyment. I say this because I was somewhat lost in the beginning specifically with some of the non-English pronouns used to describe different groups of people. I actually looked in the back hoping to find a glossary. I could also tell that some of the characters had some painful past history with each other that I would have enjoyed knowing.
Even though it took me a little bit to grasp enough of the backstory to really get into why Brendan was risking his life, I was immediately sucked in with my introduction of the villain Maelodor, and Elisabeth’s first encounter with Brendan. I think that was when Elisabeth captivated me as a character. Initially I wasn’t sure that she would be a strong enough character to help make her own destiny or if she was just going to be swept along by events. I was very pleased to see that Elisabeth refused to just accept what happened and continued fighting for information and to make her own decisions. Her strength of will was rather important as the book continued.
Brendan was a tortured hero in more ways then one if I have ever read one. It seemed like everything he tried to make up for in past events, it just made things worse. Yet I could also see how he made it worse on himself so he certainly wasn’t blameless. It was fascinating to watch Brendan as the story unfolded and see his struggle to complete what he saw as his redemption, sacrificing himself along the way, without dragging anyone else he cared about down with him.
This novel had revenge, betrayal, kidnappings, death one of which I think came too easily, love, magic, visions, and things that really weren’t quite as they seemed. Given the sheer amount of activity in this last book I had to wonder if the first two moved at a slower pace and built everything up to this or if Ms Rickloff kept things moving quickly throughout the entire series.
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher
Logan Quinn was trying to kill me. My Spartan classmate relentlessly pursued me, swinging his sword at me over and over again, the shining silver blade inching closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes practically glowed with the thrill of battle…
I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Academy, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. One day, I’m getting schooled in sword play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gorgeous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invisible archer in the Library of Antiquities decides to use me for target practice. And now, I find out that some one at the academy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword… This blurb came from Goodreads.
While I tend to think of myself as a voracious reader, I have mostly stayed away from the newish crop of YA (Young Adult) books and authors. I was glad to see an upswing in books that inspired people to read even if they didn’t work for me. I do read YA but those authors I was introduced to either in school like Robin McKinley and Roald Dahl or were writing it when I was going through school like Tamora Pierce. What those authors have in common is they did not — and those that are still writing — do not contain the levels of “emoness” that seem to be prevalent today. I also watched the huge increase in adult authors who decided to make the leap over to YA and wondered about the different skill-set required. When I read a YA, yes like always, I am expecting a good story but I don’t read them expecting to see chronologically younger versions of the same characters but different mentalities/viewpoints etc.
So why you might ask given all of that did I agree to review Kiss of Frost which is certainly a YA and the second novel of the series. What had happened was, I already liked Ms Estep’s Elemental Assassin series and I was reading Entangled for a joint review last fall when I stumbled upon her novella Halloween Frost and I got sucked in. As a result I bought the prequel novella, the first novel and then accepted the request for this review.
There will be spoilers for the previous stories in this review but I will attempt to keep them as minimal as possible. Kiss of Frost picks up shortly after the events of Touch of Frost, reviewed by Lou here, with Gwen actively trying to learn how to use the various weapons provided in gym class. Gwen knows that she will be a target for the Reapers but compared to the majority of the other students who all have some magical skill in the art of self-defense and weaponry, she thinks she is fighting a losing battle. Not to forget that her primary instructor happens to be the boy she has a crush on who is very involved with someone else. I liked how Ms Estep highlighted Gwen’s feelings and reactions without taking them to an extreme level. They seemed appropriate for someone her age and temperament.
It was rather enjoyable watching Daphne drag Gwen kicking and screaming into a friendship that also meant Gwen ended up participating in some things that were outside her normal comfort zone as she started to find her place at Mythos Academy. As the novel continues Gwen also starts learning that everyone is not as they seem and that her powers of psychometry — even though she sees them as comparatively insignificant — can produce some pretty amazing results. She learns some things about herself and about dealing with other people as she continues to realize that some myths and legends are real and still around today. Gwen does find out some rather disturbing information that caused her to doubt her entire world but I loved her reaction. It was so in character and went along with everything else she had demonstrated before.
I really enjoyed reading this installment of the Mythos Academy because it provided me with everything I could ask for. I got to enjoy mystery, death threats, mythical creatures, talking swords, building friendships, character growth, some fascinating world building and a great story. I can’t wait for Dark Frost to come out later this year!
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out today How we got this book: From the author
Ophelia retired from life as a prostitute, but her new position is even more complicated. Managing the bloodhound manor in Iron Creek is difficult and time-consuming, a job she enjoys less with each passing day. Then there’s her inconvenient attraction to Hunter. The newly turned hound seems eager to enjoy her company, but wary of anything more intimate.
Having survived the violence of his first full moon out of a cage, Hunter isn’t looking forward to his first new moon. Ophelia offers to be the woman who sates his needs during the three long days of sexual fury, but he can’t abide the thought of hurting her in a state of mindless lust. Especially since she longs to settle into a respectable life, and his needs are anything but respectable.
Their mutual goal is simple: avoid entanglements. It’s a solid plan, at least until a vampire drug lord and a couple of nosy Guild representatives force them to work together to defend their friends and everything they hold dear–including each other.
Warning: Contains a mostly feral, vampire-hunting hero and a tough survivor of a heroine whose retired-hooker heart is more steel than gold. Also included: dangerous frontier intrigue, fancy brothels, mad-scientist weapons and a good dose of wicked loving in an alternate Wild West. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
MinnChica: I’ve been a huge fan of Moira Rogers for as long as I can remember, and one of the things I love most is the unique worlds they create. The Bloodhounds series is one of those worlds that is so different and special and I gobble up each new release. After reading about Hunter’s struggles in the first book, I couldn’t wait to see where Rogers’ would take his character. I absolutely loved the way Hunter still struggled with his new Bloodhound ways, but acclimated to everything.
E: Poor Hunter! My heart goes out to him. Unlike the other Bloodhounds who somewhat volunteered for the transformation even if they didn’t know what they were really getting into he was not given the option to volunteer. Nor was he transformed by the scientists with their established program to include mentorship but by a definite criminal and another person whose motives are questionable at best. Like MinnChica I have been sucked into this world from the first page. I really wanted to see how Hunter was going to survive now that he isn’t kept in a cage and what was going to happen to Ophelia. At the end of Wilder’s Mate there was a line about how Ophelia had changed which implied something happened to her that caused her emotional distress. Two wounded distrusting people paired up trying to find themselves and each other. That to me is a recipe for a very enjoyable read and Moira Rogers did not disappoint.
MinnChica: I couldn’t wait to see what would happen with Ophelia, the former whore turned house-mistress and Hunter the caged wild-thing who was turned against his will. These two had so much angst between the two of them, and yet their relationship was somewhat calm and soothing to them both. I wanted to smack Hunter on the head every time he turned his back on Ophelia, especially in the beginning of the story. I understood his reluctance, his fear of hurting her. Yet I wanted him to suck it up and trust in his new instincts.
E: Hunter’s refusal to trust himself was annoying but when you think about where he came from he was dealing with some extremely unfamiliar territory. He also never spent any of the crucial moon times with another person but locked in his cage going violently crazy. I think if I didn’t know that the violent crazy would change focus I wouldn’t want to be around anyone either. Especially not someone that I had come to care for. Ophelia’s former occupation was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because she knew how to handle Bloodhounds and what they were like but a curse because it meant Hunter would have a hard time believing that Ophelia meant what she said. I was amazed at how many times she continued reaching out to Hunter despite his rejections. I think at first it was she didn’t want him to suffer because it wasn’t his fault and then as she started to care for him…
MinnChica: I agree that at times I wanted Ophelia to just throw in the towel and walk away, but I loved how it all ended up for them. Once the two got over themselves and came together, they were great together. I was also glad that Hunter was able to let himself go and get the chance to kick some ass. I loved the “final showdown” and how that all played out. Rogers’ does such a wonderful job telling a story, and there wasn’t much I didn’t love about this one.
E: Besides the overall relationship between Hunter and Ophelia we also got to see some of what goes into “policing” a town in these very different days. It was very fascinating to catch some glimpses of the internal politics with the Bloodhounds, their creators and the territorial war against the vampires. I will admit I had my concerns when two strange visitors showed up in town and had undue interest in Hunter, Archer and Nathanial. I was worried about what they would do and if they would push any of the characters I have come to enjoy to do the unforgivable. Like always Moira Rogers built up the tension and then fixed the issues with a very believable solution that required all concerned parties to make some decisions and take certain actions .
MinnChica: All in all, I really enjoyed the second installment of The Bloodhounds series. Hunter and Ophelia were both amazing characters, and I loved the way their relationship played out. I was glad to see them both rely on the other for support and assistance in dealing with their new lives. I also liked the introduction of two new characters in the Bloodhound world, and was excited to see the series get a more definitive direction to take. I’m excited to see where Rogers’ takes this series, how it will all play out. I can’t wait for the next one! I give Hunter’s Prey a B+
E: Hunter’s Prey was a wonderful addition to the Bloodhounds series. Not only did we get the almost star crossed lovers between Hunter and Ophelia we could also watch the rest of the characters we met in Wilder’s Mate continue to grow and settle into their new lives. Things are anything but safe and comfortable out on the border so to see these hardened people find something soft and caring is just great. Between the twisting politics, the hinted at but not quite said I think we are in for a rare treat as this series continues. I give Hunter’s Prey an A-/B+
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: March 13th How we got this book: eARC from author
Matt Coleman always figured at this point in his life, he’d be settled down with a family. Since his ex split for the big city, though, no way will he give anyone else the chance to drop-kick his heart. Physical pleasure? Hell, yeah, he’ll take-and give-with gusto, but nothing more.
Hope Meridan is working long hours to hold on to her new quilt shop, going it alone since her sister/business partner ran off. Sex? Right, like she’s got the time. Not that she doesn’t have the occasional dirty fantasy about Matt. Fat chance he’d dream of knocking boots with her-the younger sister of the woman who dumped him. Nope, she’ll just have to settle for the F-word.
“Friends” would be far easier if there wasn’t something combustible going on between them. And when casual interest starts to grow into something more, their tenuous bond strengthens in the heat of desire. But it may not survive the hurricane-force arrival of the last person either of them ever wanted to see again…
Warning: Small-town rivals, men in pursuit and family meddling-in good and bad ways. Look for a cowboy who knows how to rope, ride and rein in a hell of a lot more than eight seconds of sheer bliss. *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I’ve been a long time fan of both Vivian Arend and cowboys, so when Viv WROTE cowboys, I was sold. I’ve adored this series since the first book, but was especially excited to see what would happen with Matt, especially after the way he was treated by his long-time ex-girlfriend. I have to say, sometimes stories where the hero falls for the sister of his ex-girlfriend doesn’t work for me, but this one totally did. I LOVED Matt and Hope together. They didn’t go into a relationship easily, and were hesitant to screw up their friendship, but man-oh-man where these two so perfect for each other!!
E: I LOVED this book. Ms Arend took some tropes that don’t always work well for me because they are prone to being used as shortcuts and she worked the heck out of them. Matt didn’t just jump from one sister to the next but was given time to heal. Hope was also scarred by her sister’s actions and didn’t want to get involved with Matt despite her attraction to him. I really enjoyed their first “meet cute” and thought that they second encounter was just as much fun.
MinnChica: Yes, I loved that they both had time to come to grips with Helen’s betrayal of them before jumping into anything serious. I also have to admit that after reading this book, I have a new fondness for bathtubs. *wink wink* There were so many wonderful moments between Matt and Hope in this book. I loved that the friends to lovers aspect was also very prevalent in the story. It was obvious that they didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship with any kind of serious romantic relationship either. Everything in this story was handled wonderfully!
E: This was really a great friends to lovers story. I have mentioned when talking about other stories that the hero and heroine’s journey was too easy but I didn’t quite know how to verbalize what was missing. After hearing a rather successful author talk about needing to have three types of conflict in your story; internal, external and romantic I realized that one or more of those had been missing. Thinking back on how much I enjoyed this story I noticed that Ms Arend included all three in Rocky Mountain Desire in a great combination. One of the other things I really enjoyed about this book is that Hope wasn’t sitting around waiting for someone to come rescue her. She figured out how to achieve her dream despite Helen’s actions and she REFUSED to let Helen ruin it.
MinnChica: Oh I agree completely. I absolutely LOVED Hope! She didn’t put up with any BS, whether it was from Matt or Helen. She knew what her dream was and she went for it – in both her business and her professional life. I loved that she took her circumstances in life and ran with it. When Helen abandoned her to the business, she did what needed to be done to get her business successful and running under a one-woman operation. When Matt pushed her, she pushed right back and fought for what she wanted from life. I loved that she was a sweet and loving and somewhat docile character, but that she also didn’t become a pushover!
E: When I am reading a contemporary one of the things I need is a strong female character and Hope certainly provided that. Another thing that I need is a strong male character who loves the heroine because her strength is such an intrinsic part of her. He doesn’t have to be the uber alpha male but secure enough so that he isn’t threatened by her independence and doesn’t depend on her to take care of him. They are partners who encourage and support each other. Matt was perfectly wonderful at that. Yes, he ran into Hope’s independent streak a few times but he learned. He also never gave Hope reason to think that he wanted Helen instead. I think he totally stole my heart when he called Jaxi to ask if she would provide some back-up to Hope as she dealt with a rather messy situation instead of insisting that he take care of the issue.
MinnChica: I usually like my heroes to be absolute Alpha males, but I have to agree that a man who is secure enough to let his leading lady take the reigns for awhile can be totally sexy. Matt was one of those heroes who wasn’t necessarily an uber-alpha, but he was one who was able and willing to sit back and let Hope handle her life as she saw fit. He let her take care of herself without trying to coddle her. I adored that about him. He might have become my favorite of the Coleman brothers!!
E: Depending on how you count I have been waiting either *counts on fingers* two years and seven months or just two years for this book to be released. Even though I complained bitterly that I had to wait for the revision and re-release of the first two Six Pack Ranch books, Rocky Mountain Heat and Rocky Mountain Haven, Ms Arend made the wait worth my while. As I mentioned on Goodreads Matt has become my favorite hero of this series. I had all the conflict, the strong characters and I can’t forget the sense of community and family that tied it all together. Plus we had a glimpse of poor Travis who is still dealing with his issues… I give Rocky Mountain Desire an A.
MinnChica: All in all I think that this has become one of my favorite Cowboy series out there, right up there with Lorelei James and Mari Carr/Jayne Rylon. The romance between Hope and Matt was sweet and sexy and everything in between. The on going relationship between Matt and his brothers is always built and developed more and more in each book. I can’t wait for Arend to write more in this series, and hope she does so soon so that we don’t have to wait long for another glimpse into the Coleman boy’s lives. This series is a must-read for cowboy lovers! I give Rocky Mountain Desire an A- (less)
Publisher: Zebra Publish Date: May 1st How I got this book: ARC from the author
HELL TO PAY
Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.
But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal—one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.
Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I was lucky enough to be able to review the first book of Ms Archer’s Hellraisers series Devil’s Kiss last year and I really enjoyed it. As a result when we were offered the opportunity to review Demon’s Bride I leaped at the chance. Once again Ms Archer sucked me in from the very start. You do need to read Devil’s Kiss first because that provides information about The Hellraisers, their goals, how the initial bargain was struck and the potential consequences of that bargain. Demon’s Bride begins shortly after the tumultuous events end in book one.
I have read about arranged marriages, betrothals from birth, and marriages for a price but I have never seen a wedding feast where that was so explicitly known between bride and groom yet the majority of the guests were oblivious. The feast and the night that followed seemed to set the tone for their relationship. He kept his relationship with the other Hellraisers and their common bond a secret but was completely open about his drive for financial success and how he planned to use the wedding feast invitation as a way to soften up some of his potential targets. While Leo could have claimed his rights as Anne’s husband the very first night instead, after noticing her trepidation was growing he decided to seduce her over time and not press until she was ready.
I really enjoyed how both Leo and Anne decided to make the best of what they had and to make something good of it. Their conversations about growing up, their goals and how Anne volunteered to do things she really didn’t enjoy for the purposes of helping her husband were wonderful to see. This was a breath of fresh air compared to the majority of the historical that I have read where the burden of making the marriage work falls mainly on the wife. Yet despite their growing bond the specter of Leo’s bargain with the Devil and his secrets hangs over them. As thoughts of Anne started distracting Leo from causing the financial downfall of other men on the ‘Change, the Devil’s representative started working harder to gain control of Leo’s soul. Ms Archer kept the action going because while Leo was dealing with the Devil, the ‘Change, his plans with the other Hellraisers to hunt down and destroy James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, the hero of Devil’s Kiss Anne was receiving warnings about her husband and his friends by a female ghost and by the selfsame Whitney.
It was really intriguing to watch both Anne and Leo grow and struggle emotionally throughout the book. They dealt with doubts about each other, doubts about the relationship they had been building, and doubts about their individual self-worth. Each had to individually confront their fears and decide which path they were going to take towards their future. Some rather interesting events occurred at the end, which I think will lead to some rather tense times for the remaining Hellraisers.
Ms Archer provided me with action, high stakes, a sweet romance, and some serious curiosity about what happens next.
Publisher: Berkley Trade Release Date: March 6th How We Got this Book: From the Author via Novel Sidekick
If you want to score, you have to get in the game…
The last thing Jenna Riley needs is more sports in her life. While her brothers are off being athletic superstars, she’s stuck running the family’s sports bar, whether she likes it or not. Then in walks pro hockey stud Tyler Anderson. As much as Jenna would like to go to the boards with him, she’s vowed to never fall for a jock—even one as hot as Ty.
Ty, intrigued by the beautiful bar owner, becomes a regular. He senses that Jenna wants to do something more with her life. And as he gains her trust, the passion between them grows, as does Ty’s insistence that Jenna should start living for herself. With his encouragement, Jenna starts to believe it, too…
But first, Jenna has to figure out what she wants, what she needs, who she loves, and if she has the passion and pride to take a shot at having it all—including Ty… *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: It’s no secret that I’ve looked for every possible sports romance available, and read most of them (good and bad). So when Jaci Burton first announced her Play-by-Play series, I knew instantly that I would read these books ASAP. When E told me we were able to do a joint review, I read it the moment it hit my inbox. I was anxious to see where Ty and Jenna’s relationship would take them, especially knowing how hesitant Jenna would be to even HAVING a relationship with Ty. Let me just say that this book is probably my favorite in the series so far, and I LOVED the relationship developments between these two.
E: I am not a huge sports romance fan but a few authors have certainly captured me. Ms Burton with her Play-by-Play series is one of those. I really enjoyed the first book and while I liked the second I found I was really looking forward to this one. I knew Ty was going to have his work cut out for him convincing Jenna that she wanted a relationship with Ty DESPITE the fact that he is a professional athlete. When I was offered the chance to review Taking a Shot of course I leapt at it and wanted to drag MinnChica along with me. When she told me she had finished reading it the very next day I couldn’t wait any longer. And like MinnChica this installment is my favorite! It was certainly worth the wait and I am looking forward to re-reading it. *grin*
MinnChica: One of my favorite aspects of this book was Jenna – just everything about her. I thought she was such a great leading lady. Although she seemed passionate about her obligation to the family and running the bar, there was also this whole other layer to her. That layer was filled with guilt over having her own dreams, passion for music and love and the people she surrounded herself with. After reading Liz, the heroine of book two, it was refreshing for me to read about a woman with such a genuine level of softness that I never saw with Liz. Although Jenna acted tough and came across as a bit of a tomboy, she was a little bit of a girly-girl at heart. I loved that about her!
E: Jenna was a very complex character torn between her love and support for her family and herself, which is something I think made her very believable. However, I have to state that I really loved Ty. I think he demonstrated the perfect mix between strong take charge Alpha and the Alpha who does that because he wants his woman happy. He refused to let Jenna remain in her martyrdom yet he also kept what she had told him in confidence and just continued to try different methods to get her to decide to go after her dreams. I thought it was so neat that while he denied wanting anything to do with love to himself all of his words and actions towards Jenna said that he really was a romantic.
MinnChica: Oh Ty… *sigh* He really was such a romantic at heart, and you are totally right. Every action he took, every word he said was for Jenna. It almost seemed as if every decision he made, every thought he had was devoted to her. It was very romantic, and yet the story was extremely sexy as well! Burton continues to amaze me with how much I fall in love with her characters. Their romance was so great as well. It seemed to slowly develop over time, with them each coming to their own “ah-ha” moments in their own time. I do have to say though, I kinda wish that Jenna would have had to grovel a bit more. When the guy is too scared to commit at the end, I like getting a big gesture from him. For me, I could have gotten something a bit bigger from Jenna.
E: Ooh very good point MinnChica. I agree that I would have loved a proper grovel scene from Jenna. Yes she had to reach out and convince Ty to spend time with her, which given her character was difficult, but she needed to grovel. Ty had continually been the pursuer which I do like but I think he needed some reassurance that Jenna was as committed to him and I don’t think she quite demonstrated that. Despite that quibble I really loved how their relationship developed. What Jenna did for Ty when she met his family really gripped my heartstrings because she allowed him to release some of what caged him emotionally.
MinnChica: Oh yeah, that was so sweet and wonderful on Jenna’s part. All in all I thought that this was the strongest book in the series romance wise, and like I said, my favorite. I absolutely adored Ty and Jenna and was sad to see the book come to an end. There were wonderful moments across the emotional spectrum: moments that made me smile and cry and laugh and fan myself. This series continues to be a favorite for me, and with this book, Burton has made it to the top of my auto-buy list. I give Taking A Shot an A-
E: At first I wasn’t sure that Ms Burton could top A PERFECT PLAY, book 1, but she certainly did. This was one of those stories that when I was finished I looked up and wondered what happened to the sunlight because I could barely see. I really think this one highlighted just how far friends and family will go trying to take care of each other which led to some humorous moments. I need to thank MinnChica for introducing me to this series because it has become one of my favorites. I give Taking a Shot an A. (less)
Publisher: Avon Publish Date: Jun 26th How we got this book: ARC from the author
She’s a mortal with dark powers…
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…
He’s the Prince of Night…
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him – a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: I have been a Jeaniene Frost fan from the very first Cat and Bones book so I was really excited to find out that she was going to start doing some spin-offs set in the same world with a few of the characters who played significant contributing roles in the main storyline. One of the characters that always fascinated me was Vlad, not only did he provide the inspiration for the legend of Dracula but I loved that he could play with fire which was typically a surefire way to kill a vampire. Ms Frost has been providing teases and snippets like usual on the lead up to publication so when she kindly offered to send this ARC I was beyond happy. It was great going back to the Night Huntress world and learning more about the very complex world of the vampires.
MinnChica: I too have been a huge Cat and Bones fan, and love the secondary characters just as much. After reading the first two spin-off books, I knew that we would be in for something extra special with Vlad. I’m happy to say that this book was so great, it was everything I expected to see from Vlad – some snark, a lot of violence, and a romance that would be an interesting journey from start to finish. I adored all things about Vlad, and Leila was the kind of heroine that I thought would be a wonderful match for Vlad.
E: Leila was a great heroine. She didn’t let Vlad get any with anything even in their initial bargain. One of my favorite parts is how Vlad could act as a safe discharge for Leila’s electricity build up. In fact he almost seemed to enjoy it *waggles eyebrows*. He needed a very strong heroine who had been tested by life because of his rather obvious other then human mentality. He did not shy away from violence as he tried to find the mastermind behind the attempts on his life. Yet for all of his other he displayed loyalty towards those who worked for him and even Leila as time passed.
MinnChica: Yes, I loved that Vlad was so… willing to be there for Leila when she needed to blow off some steam. *wink wink* I love that you brought up Vlad’s somewhat jaded outlook on life. Because although he walked on the page as a hardened Vampire with little regard for human life, he allowed Leila to open his eyes and his heart to human ways, human emotions. He even allows many of his vampire and human underlings into more than just his home, he lets them further into his life.
E: Yes, Leila’s presence had such an impact on more then just Vlad. It was great to see the two of them and the changes in those around them made it seem much more of a complete world instead of a couple mostly in a bubble. Watching them grow to trust and depend on each other was also really sweet. They have come so far and yet they have so much more to go before I think the power in their relationship balances out. Leila seems like she is going to continue to push Vlad and make him become part of the world once more.
MinnChica: Yes, I can’t wait to see where their relationship takes them next, especially as the mystery surrounding Vlad’s past comes to light. I love the way that Frost didn’t shy away from making this book gritty. Although I’m not one for my romance books being left in limbo, I was glad to see where it ended. Although Vlad and Leila haven’t made any kind of commitment, I’m already completely invested in their relationship. I also have to say that the mystery surrounding the death threats against Vlad were so well done, I was constantly left wondering who it was, how it was all being done, and what would happen next. I have to say, I’m very anxious to see how it all wraps up!
E: Like MinnChica I usually get impatient when my romance doesn’t have more of a commitment at the end of the book but given the vast extremes between the two I would have felt cheated with “I love you”s at this point. I also didn’t know who was behind the death threats so I was just as surprised as the characters with their discovery. I can’t wait to see what happens next and how Vlad and Leila continue to grow in their relationship. I really enjoyed Once Burned and felt it lived up to my anticipation. I give Once Burned a B+
MinnChica: All in all I adored the first installment of the Vlad story. I loved his heroine and all that Leila was able to bring to the table for Vlad. She gave him certain strengths that he never imagined he would need. The secondary characters in this story were great as well, and I hope we can see more of them in books to come. Frost didn’t shy away from the blood and violence, and I for one was glad to see that. I can’t wait for the next chapter in Vlad’s story! I give Once Burned a B+(less)
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author via Novel Sidekick
She’s looking for redemption. He doesn’t believe in it.
Accused of betraying the Bloodhound Guild, Archer’s only chance to regain the trust of his fellow hounds is to earn it–one dangerous job at a time. Crystal Springs may be the worst yet. The town has been deserted by all but the poor and the desperate, yet the vampires stalking the edges of the settlement haven’t closed in for the kill. Question is, why?
Grace Linwood, professional liar, has been hiding under the guise of a border schoolteacher for so long, she’s almost fallen for her own con. The frontier was supposed to be her chance at a respectable life, but now the cowardly part of her wants to flee. When Archer catches her considering a run for safety, she knows it’s only a matter of time before he sees through her charade.
They become reluctant allies in the quest to uncover the mysteries of Crystal Springs, but every unraveled knot ties them closer together. They both know their pasts are too shattered to hope for a future–until their investigation uncovers a secret. One that could make betraying the Guild their only path to redemption.
Warning: Contains a partly reformed con-artist heroine with a bruised heart and a mostly retired bank-robbing hero with a weary soul. Also included: vampire schemes, mad scientist plots, an alarming amount of dirty talk and some borderline-criminal bedroom antics in an alternate Wild West.
This blurb came from the authors’ website here.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
Has: I adore this series so much and the Bloodhound heroes are definitely smouldering hot. Archer definitely hit that category for me although I have to say I loved how gentle and empathic with the heroine, Grace. But underneath that quiet and mysterious demeanor he was really protective and passionate and the scenes where he lost control *fans self*. I also loved how patient and understanding with Grace and when they commenced with their affair I liked how he let take the choice and it was clear to me how she would fall for him so quickly.
E: Archer, wow! He had so many depths that I never expected. I knew that he had to have some reason for his bitterness and why he was left to Wilder to deal with/keep an eye on but I was not expecting all of that. Archer continued to stay full of mystery to the remaining inhabitants of Crystal Springs only revealing bits and pieces of himself to Grace. One of the several things I loved about him is that despite his bitterness and disillusionment he continued to do everything he could to save the town and continue acting as a bloodhound. I don’t think many people could or would do that. I also really liked that he didn’t judge Grace for her past nor did he make it harder on her to maintain her position of respectability and trust within the town. I will also say that his smexy times *fans self* and how patient he was with Grace so very wonderful to read.
MinnChica: I’ve loved Archer from the first moment he stepped onto the Bloodhound pages. He was snarky and at times rude, he didn’t apologize for being blunt and I absolutely adored him. I was really excited to see where his story would go, and was so glad to see him not only kick a little ass, but also soften up a bit. I really enjoyed the way he processed his feelings for Grace, starting with almost a contempt like put for her, and then moving to respect and admiration and love. It was great to watch him process all those emotions, while still kicking butt and taking names.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
Has: I really liked Grace, I found her to be really realistic and relatable especially in the beginning when she’s close to escaping the town and Archer catches her. And I didn’t blame her for wanting to run especially in the claustrophobic and dead atmosphere town of Crystal Springs. Grace is a not a perfect character and she has a past which she regrets which I loved – and she definitely felt more real especially with the danger of the remaining survivors of Crystal Springs.
Her chemistry with Archer was hot and I loved how their romance evolved over the book, especially towards the end.
E: Grace was the perfect heroine for Archer. She had a past that she was trying to regain her inner respectability from and a sense of responsibility towards Crystal Springs. The opening scene as she was mentally struggling with her fears and what she had already decided to do once more was such a snapshot of her mentality. I also really liked how she interacted with Archer and shielded him from the other ‘ladies’ in the town. Not that she was possessive or anything *grin*. I enjoyed how she was strong and willful but not TSTL. Her vulnerability the first night they spent together provided a great contrast to her outer image and just built her into such a complex character.
MinnChica: Poor Grace… trying so hard to start over fresh with a new life. I love heroines who realize there were on the wrong path, and are so willing to fight for the life they want. Grace was no exception. She knew she had screwed things up royally before, and yet she desperately wanted a respectable life, a husband, a family, someone to love. I adored her inner strength, and her ability to deal with Archer, especially when he would get prickly. I thought that they were so wonderful together, and perfectly complimented each other throughout the story. I hope we get to see more of these two in future books!
3. Favorite Scene
Has: I think my favourite scene of the book is the just after the vampire attack at the basement, where they were investigating the doc’s labarotory and his experiments. The romance really progressed between Archer and Grace and there was definitely a few hot scenes, but it also illustrated a change in their relationship. And I loved how Archer really opened up to Grace with his emotions – I think its hard to convey emotional development with a lot of love scenes. But for me in Archer’s Lady it so worked for me!
E: So many good scenes in this book. Between their first smexytime, to the New Moon, to their final fight with the vampires it is hard to pick one. I think I am going to go with one towards the end when Wilder, Hunter and crew arrive at Crystal Springs and barge in on Archer and Grace. That plus the ensuing discussion (some of which was at the top of people’s lungs) was a lot of fun. To me it just crystallized how far the two of them had come along with what made Archer the way he was. It also added some interesting hints into the development of the upcoming dispute with the Guild.
MinnChica: Eeek… trying to pick just one scene always kills me, especially when there are so many to choose from. And with a novella, each scene tends to mean something special to me, so having few scenes to choose from that are all great is so hard! I think the first scene, where Archer and Grace meet in the barn is one of my favorites. Grace is trying so hard to be honorable, and yet at the same time she wants to run as far and as quickly as she can. When Archer comes in and questions her, she stands up to him while trying to preserve her dignity. The play-by-play banter was wonderful, and I loved that little moment.
4. Dislike about book
Has: I don’t think I have any dislikes other than the ending which leaves a few things open with the main mystery and plotline. But overall this was a fast-paced and sexy read!
E: I also didn’t have any dislikes. I was immersed in the story from start to finish and it stayed that way even when I re-read it.
MinnChica: Although I love reading novellas, there are just some authors who should only write books that take hours to read. Rogers is one of those authors that I could read all day, every day. I adored the story, it was wonderful from start to finish!
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Has: Archer’s Lady for me is another solid installment which is fast becoming one of my favourite post apocalyptic PNR series. This was a hot and engaging romance and memorable characters packed full of mayhem and action I definitely can’t wait for the next book!
I give Archer’s Lady a B+
E: Moira Rogers has provided yet another stellar installment in their Bloodhounds series. Each story seems to get better and better as more things unfold about the world and its characters. I can always go back and re-read the entire series and feel like I am enjoying it for the first time again. It is rare to have books that give me that sense during multiple re-readings. The smexytimes were hawt, the suspense danger was intense, the emotional growth between Archer and Grace was great to see. I am so looking forward to the next one.
I give Archer’s Lady an A.
MinnChica: I adore the Bloodhound series and how unique it really is. The paranormal and steampunk elements are blended together perfectly and the world is so fun to jump back into. I’ve long adored Archer, and was glad to see him get his happily ever after. I also really liked being able to see the story progress, find out a bit more about the Bloodhounds, and meet the (hopefully!) heroine of the next novella. I still love Rogers and everything they write. These books are sexy and fun and wonderful short reads! I give Archer’s Lady a B+(less)
Publisher: All Romance Ebooks Publish Date: Feb 12th How we got this book: From the author via Novel Sidekick
A short story set between Wilder’s Mate and Hunter’s Prey.
Merrick Wood is a wild man–literally. For six decades he’s stalked the Rocky Mountains as a bloodhound, fighting a losing battle against the vampires who have taken over most of the American frontier. He’s sure he’s seen it all, until an airship crash leaves him caught behind enemy lines with a concussion and a mate he doesn’t remember taking.
Paralee Colton is a wild woman. She enjoys her freedom and makes a good living flying over the Deadlands. Until, that is, bloodsuckers shoot down her ship, and she’s forced to deal with an irritatingly attractive man who isn’t a man at all.
Trapped together in the wilderness, Merrick and Paralee must fight to find a safe camp before the new moon drags Merrick into three days of sexual madness. But as enticing as Paralee finds the bloodhound, she doesn’t realize the stakes of their courtship game.
Getting out of the Deadlands is only half of Merrick’s battle for survival. If he can’t convince Paralee to stay with him, he’ll follow the footsteps of every bloodhound who’s ever lost a mate–straight into the grave. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: I had heard through the twitterwebs that Moira Rogers had a short story coming out in All Romance Ebooks Valentines special anthology I was pretty excited. Then I found out it was one of the Bloodhounds and I was even more excited because I have to admit that I am addicted to them. When we were offered the chance to review this I about broke my fingers trying to type my acceptance. If anything this short story just fueled my addiction to this particular series.
Has: I really loved Wilder’s Mate and the setting and premise of a western with steampunk elements and hawt smexy weres as heroes is just full of WIN for me. So I was definitely looking forward to the next installment, and dare I say it – I think Merrick’s Destiny almost topped Wilder’s Mate! I loved how sexy and intense the romance even though it was short. I adored the opening scene which hooked me straight into the story.
E: Talk about starting off with an impact! With a short story I think it is even more important to have the reader hooked quickly because you don’t have the room for a gradual build-up. That scene certainly set their characters and gave them a reason for having to work together. I also liked that Merrick was hurt and in a way owed his life to Paralee. It seemed to almost level the playing field between the two of them.
Has: I loved that scene so much! It packed so much info and emotions in such a short time period and the tension between them sizzled! And I totally agree that there was such an equal footing and their partnership on surviving their crash landing and the tentative beginnings of their emotional part of their relationship. I liked how Merrick didn’t want to push her and gave Paralee the space to make the moves.
I have to say that each love scene that they shared really ratcheted the tension and the intensity of their romance. I really do think that this was hottest story that Moria Rogers has written yet because if my Kindle could live up to its name. The words would be smoking!
E: Merrick was great. For such an old gruff Bloodhound he certainly had a hidden soft side. He tried so hard to let Paralee make her decision without any pressure. My favorite line that displayed how much he cared for more then the physical is:
"You’re going to be the most important thing in my world, and if you’ve got a scrap of compassion for me… Well, you’ll let me care for you a little, whether you need it or not."
OMG talk about swoon and certainly telling Paralee that she had a lot of power over him. And the continual build-up of sexual tension…*fans self*
Has: *Sigh* I know! That scene was pure utter scrumptiousness! I don’t think that a lot of short stories can carry that aspect well. But seriously Merrick’s Destiny really did deliver! Even though it was such a short story, the romance, the characterisation and the setting all worked. I felt very satisfied towards the end and although I was sad when I got to the end of the story and wished for more but that is because I wanted to know more about the characters and their future adventures. I thought that it was a wonderfully sweet but passionate Bloodhound entry to the series and for such a short story – it packed a memorable punch! Frankly I <3 this story!
I give Merrick’s Destiny an A
E: I also liked how the authors were able to sprinkle in bits of world building and Bloodhound history. I felt it added to the story both for readers familiar with the world and those who might be visiting for the first time. This was a great installment in their series and I can’t wait for the next. This short story delivered everything I was looking for. I can’t even complain about the short length, even though I didn’t want to stop reading, because the story felt complete.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
MinnChica: Oh Jason… you have been so sneaky and in the dark in this series, so getting to see you in all your spy glory is AWESOME! Despite the fact that Jason is the spymaster, and a little ruthless, I also loved getting to see the softer side of him. With Mahiya, he could see the way she was forced to live and he respected her for her ability to survive and still be a sweet and passionate and caring woman. There were so many different dimensions to Jason and for that I fell head over heels for the guy!
E: Oh man, like MinnChica said getting to know Jason in this book was well worth the wait. He so lived up to the saying that, “still waters run deep,” because there was so much to Jason. He demonstrated angelic arrogance without the need to strike at others just because he could. If anything Jason was so extremely careful in his dealing with others that he was almost the antithesis of the angels Singh has shown so far. Watching his inner-self come out as he spent time around Mahiya was a real treat. He needed a heroine just as self-contained and he certainly got one.
Has: I was definitely looking forward to Jason’s book, although I feel like the odd one out because I had trouble really getting a grasp of his character. I did enjoy love how he hides behind shadows and secrecy because it was SO HIM. But I felt it was hard to get to know him although I suspect that was the intentions by Nalini Singh because he is such a shadowy character. But I did enjoy the glimpses of his true self especially when he interacted with Mahiya which helped to slowly reveal his character, although I wished I could connect a bit more to him.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: I felt so awful for Mahiya. The poor woman had a horrible life in Neha’s court and life was never once easy for her. She had to deal with so much scorn and hatred from her aunt, disgust from her father, and had no one she could turn to for comfort of support. I just wanted to give her a hug from the moment we first met her to the very end. At time same time, like Jason, I really respected her ability to come out of her situation with as much love and sweetness as she did. She was a genuine heroine, one that I was immediately drawn to. I admired her strength and hope we get to see more of her in Raphael’s court, especially if she continues to grow and thrive.
E: Mahiya was another mystery. The glimpses of her background as the story unfolded were heartbreaking. It takes an immense strength of will to not give up on life with that amount of consistent mistreatment. I really saw the importance of the Refuge in the Angelic structure because it provides all of them with a chance at a good foundation. No it doesn’t dictate what the individuals do with that foundation but it gives them all a chance. In some ways I think I enjoyed the view into her thoughts almost more then some of Singh’s other heroines because it was such a contrast to her outer-self along with the unrelenting calculations on how to achieve her goals without sacrificing her personal morals. I really want to see more of her as this series continues because I think she is a great foil for the more flamboyant personalities of the other heroines. Yet she can also relate to them because she has also been tested by life.
Has: I also enjoyed Mahiya’s character much more, the inner steadfastness and cool will of steel, and how she wouldn’t let the court politics get to her despite the scandal of her birth. She may have not been as kick ass or warrior like but I loved how she challenged and changed Jason’s initial opinion of her because he felt she was weak. She really conveyed that she was much stronger than a lot of people who would have turned bitter or twisted in her position. And in a lot of a ways she was also stronger than Jason whose own past affected and changed him which is why he is such a secretive character and I loved that she helped him to come out of his shell and show glimpses of his old self. And I agree I felt she was perfect partner for Jason because she compliments him and vise versa – and even though she was a quieter and subtle character, she was just as every bit as interesting for me.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: I think my favorite scene might have to be the first time Venom arrives at Neha’s court. It was obvious that although he had history with Neha, he was there for Jason, he wanted to support Jason and was willing to provide insider knowledge. For me, it was the first time that Jason really seemed to stake his claim on Mahiya as well, making sure that Venom knew she was his. And despite Jason’s warning, Venom was as charming towards her. But when Mahiya turns back to Jason, saying she only allowed him to touch her because of their obvious friendship… That one scene just stuck with me throughout the rest of the book.
E: So many wonderful scenes. I agree with both MinnChica and Has with the scenes they chose. I think that I am going to have to go with one right before Neha has a formal dinner. Mahiya sets up an early dinner for Jason and when he asks why she tells him that he won’t be able to eat during the dinner. The way she explained it along with her thoughts showed both her sense of humor and the fact that she cared about Jason as more then a man she was forced to bond with and spy on. This was just another glimpse into the character of the only person who could touch Jason deep inside.
Has: My favourite scene is when they really open up about their feelings towards each other and Mahiya realises despite Jason’s hesitation and fears that he may not be enough he has strong feelings for them. I thought this scene was incredibly sweet and moving especially in the context of each knowing their past.
“I can’t give you what you want,” he repeated, some unknown thing tearing and ripping inside him at the thought of having to sever his connection to her, when it was the first time in his life he’d trusted even a part of himself to a lover. A soft smile. “Did I make any demands, hmm?” Lifting her free hand, she ran her fingers along his jaw. “I have so much love inside me, Jason. So much. And I have never been allowed to shower it on anyone—no one has wanted it. Let me stretch the wings of my heart with you.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: Eek, this is a tough one for me, because the book itself was so wonderfully done. The romance between these two seemed really subtle to me, and I loved that. Yet at the same time, the world of Neha’s court was so violent, so cruel, and really worked so hard at putting Mahiya in this ugly place that I had a hard time getting past my anger at Neha and feeling sorry for her predicament. Part of me wanted Jason to fly away with Mahiya and have Raphael launch at nuke at Neha’s palace and just be done with her once and for all!
E: I also did not have any particular scene that I disliked but I did have characters that I initially sympathized with and then moved towards dislike. Before I got to know Neha I felt for her based on what happened to her daughter as well as her Consort’s betrayal. But then her utter inhuman cruelty to those around her was shown and while I regretted her emotional distress I no longer saw her as a victim of any sort. The other character that earned my dislike plays a huge part in the overall mystery of the story so I won’t name names… I will just say that again their actions turned me against the individual.
Has: I have to admit this wasn’t my favourite Guild book, whilst I loved the romance despite having difficulties getting into Jason’s character, I wasn’t a huge fan of the subplot with Neha and the political intrigue and murders. It felt predictable for me and while I liked the ending which made up for the main plot. I didn’t feel it was that exciting and the pace was a bit plodding but I am glad that time was spent on developing the relationship with Jason and Mahiya because if it was a high action plot it would have definitely overpowered their romance.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this book. I’ve always said that the angels series doesn’t compare to the Psy-Changeling books (FOR ME), but with the last few books showcasing different couples and more of the Guild Hunter world, I’ve really become more invested in this series. I loved everything about Jason and Mahiya, and these two might be one of my favorite couples in the series so far. Their romance was sweet and endearing and I loved seeing a softer side of Jason. While I’m excited to see more from Raphael and Elena, I hope we get to see a lot of Jason and Mahiya in the next book as well! I give Archangel’s Storm a B
E: I think this was another great installment in the Guild-Hunter world. Each book shows more about the world and exposes more about the characters, even those that we have spent quality time with in the past. The slow gradual romance reminded me of Galen and Jessamy’s romance which I also loved. The ending well I had to reach for tissues each time I re-read it because it spoke volumes about their feelings for each other. Singh again provided a complete story while not stinting on the outer world changes. Things are looking very very interesting as events start shaping. I did miss seeing the actual Hunters but I really enjoyed spending time mainly with the angels. I also liked the glimpses into Dmitri and Honor’s relationship as they solidified their commitment to each other. I felt those snippets added to the overall story without detracting from my fascination with Jason and Mahiya. I give Archangel’s Storm an A.
Has: I totally agree about each installment adding more nuance and layers to ongoing story arc and world-building. Whilst this wasn’t my favourite installment, I really enjoyed the romance between Jason and Mahiya and how it evolved throughout the book. I adored the themes of music and secrecy and how it related to their characters and even though it was a subtle and understated romance, I really felt that they were both soul-mates and sometimes you don’t need to say or commit big acts to express love. There is a scene that involved a song at the end that really sums up the book and their love story for me – iand because things may be hidden or subtle it is no less powerful. Archangel’s Storm is filled with nuanced characterisation, and a subtle and sweet romance that is beautifully drawn out over the course of the book. I give Archangel’s Storm a B- (less)
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out today How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
Attempted Murder. Passion. Betrayal. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Claudia Hunter is on a road trip through the Nevada desert when she sees the body of a dog on the side of the highway. Pulling over to investigate, she quickly determines that the enormous animal is clinging to life. While working to save him with the help of the local vet, Claudia realizes there’s something about the creature that seems more. Other. Wyr. Which makes this case of animal cruelty attempted murder. Too injured to shape shift, Luis Alvaraz is reluctant to tell Claudia what he knows about his attack, afraid it will only make her a target. But the sheriff is corrupt, and his attackers know Luis is alive and vulnerable. To make matters worse, a sandstorm is sweeping into town, and if they’re going to survive the night, Luis will have to place all his trust in Claudia. Warning: Take a gorgeous man temporarily stuck in the dog house, add a strong, take-no-prisoners woman, mix in encroaching enemies and a raging sandstorm and stir to combine. Enjoy with a freshly opened can of whoop-ass.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: We here at The Book Pushers continue to be mad Thea Harrison fans so when we found out that we had not one but two new stories from her this month much dancing ensued. While I liked the two main characters and thought the overall storyline was interesting, the romance between them didn’t really work for me. The change in setting to the desert and from major power players/serial killers to a different level of “evil” helped flesh out Ms Harrison’s world. And I LOVED the pack of Tarot cards.
MinnChica: I’m such a sucker for Harrison’s Elder Races books, and while there were some things I liked about this story, there were also things I didn’t. When I read a Thea Harrison book, I’ve already come to expect certain things: a strong alpha hero, a sweet and endearing heroine, and a romance between the two of them that leaves me feeling as if all my dreams came true. For me, this story had the characters, but lacked the romance. Like E, I do enjoy that the series of books from Samhain seem to be following the Tarot cards. It’s a neat little side plot that keeps things interesting.
E: Claudia Hunter is a rarity among romance heroines. She is older, doesn’t really have dreams of HEA, and had made her living as one of an elite unit until their last mission ended up costing almost all them their lives. She is the type of woman who is very comfortable with guns and feels like they are part of what she grabs everyday like some women feel about make-up. Yet despite the toughness necessary to do well in her chose occupation she also has a very soft side as evidenced by her refusal to let the “very large dog” die on the side of the road or be humanely put down. She doesn’t have any huge powers but she has trained to use what she possesses to its utmost. I would rather have someone like that on my side then a person with immense power and no idea of how to best wield it. I enjoyed her differences and what that hinted towards women’s roles in the Wyr.
MinnChica: I too enjoyed Claudia. She was different (in a good way) from Harrison’s other heroines. She was strong and independent and at a later stage in life than any of the previous heroines. She wanted to be alone and travel around and drift through life as the wind blows her. I also enjoyed Luis, with what little time we spent with him. It felt as if the majority of the novella was told within Claudia’s POV, maybe because Luis spent a lot of the book in his Wyr form. But once we got the chance to see him, it was obvious he was both a warrior and had a kind heart. He didn’t let Claudia push him away or run him out of town because of their age difference. Instead, he put his own life on hold for the chance to follow her. That had me melting just a bit at the end!
E: Luis, I did like him! He was so determined not to let Claudia go. What I also really enjoyed is that despite his desire to protect and keep Claudia safe he accepted the fact that she could do some things better and by trusting her to do her part he could bring the cavalry to the rescue. Claudia’s reaction to Luis when she first saw him in human form was priceless! He certainly used his obvious physical charms to his advantage when it came to sneaking through her defenses. My favorite supporting character was the “retired” vet. He was smart, patient and I think if Luis hadn’t been who he was, he might have tried to keep Claudia local.
MinnChica: I have to admit though, the romance between Claudia and Luis was very lackluster. This novella felt more like it belonged in the urban fantasy genre than paranormal romance. I didn’t really feel any lasting connection between Claudia and Luis, and while I hope they get their HEA, everything between them seemed to be left very up in the air. I hope that Harrison revisits these characters in the future, because I think it would be neat to see where they go from here.
E: I agree with you MinnChica, this read more like an urban fantasy with the world and adventure taking the central aspect of the story and the romance as a sideline. I was more willing to believe that where the novella ended was the start of Claudia and Luis working towards a permanent relationship not establishing one. It would be fun to catch glimpses of them in later instances to see how the two “warriors” are juggling their rather strong personalities. Like always I enjoyed Ms Harrison’s writing and find her world very enthralling. This one just didn’t provide the romance I am used to coming from her. If you go into reading this with that expectation I think it will really satisfy. I give Natural Evil a B-.
MinnChica: All in all I had some mixed feelings about this novella. While I absolutely love the Elder Races universe, and enjoyed seeing even more of the Wyr ways, I had certain expectations going into the book that I didn’t think were met. I desperately wanted a deeper connection between Claudia and Luis and was a little disappointed with how their romance turned out. I think that readers definitely need to go into this story shelving any romance-specific expectations and just enjoying the ride. I will say I am SUPER excited to see where the next novella takes us, especially if we get to follow the young Medusa character. I give Natural Evil a C+ (less)
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out Now How we got this book: NetGalley
In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two mates find themselves on different paths, torn between their duty to the Wyr and the passion that binds them… Before she met Dragos, half-human/half-Wyr Pia Giovanni was alone and on the run. Now she’s mated, pregnant and heading south to repair the Wyrs’ frayed relationship with the Elves. Being separated from Dragos is painful, but for the good of the Wyr demesne they need to figure out how to be partners—in more places than just the bedroom. In New York to preside over the Sentinel Games, Dragos is worried about his mate, but knows that finding two replacement sentinels is essential to show the rest of the Elder Races just how strong and brutal the Wyr demesne can be. But as the Games heat up, Pia’s negotiations with the Elves take a turn for the dangerous, straining her bond with Dragos and threatening everything they hold dear… *Blurb from Goodreads*
1. Thoughts on the Hero
MinnChica: Oh Dragos… I fell in love with him in the first book, and my adoration has yet to subside. He is still just as Alpha and sexy in this book as he was in the first, and I love – LOVE – that Harrison has come back to these characters to continue the overall series arc. I love getting to see Dragos in a little different light, like I said, he was still Alpha to the extreme, but he and Pia have also come to a comfortable place in their relationship where he trusts her and her judgement. I love the way their relationship has developed, and was so glad to see these two back together again.
Lou: I’ve been a big fan of Dragos since the first book; he’s a smexy smiting smoking dragon. What’s not to love about him? He has an arrogance about him that fits his character to a tee as the ruler of the Wyrs, but when it comes to Pia, he becomes very vulnerable, and it’s nice to see Dragos unravel in front of a strong heroine. In Lord’s Fall, we don’t see a ton of interaction with Dragos and Pia, but there is tension between them when Pia goes against his wishes. Dragos’ response is typical, but he does change in his pushy and controlling behaviour.
Has: I think over the course of this series, Dragos has definitely become one of my all time favourite PNR heroes. I loved that he never lost his edge or dominant nature which Harrison has perfectly depicted with his otherworldly nature. But at the same time, I really love the glimpses of tenderness and vulnerability with his scenes with Pia. They definitely made me melt and I liked that despite being so autocratic and full on uber alpha mode, he was willing to let Pia have her space and choices – even though it goes against his nature. The scenes where they had to work out their issues were realistic and close to their characters, and I am loving how their relationship is evolving and developing.
E: Oh Dragos so very grumpy, alpha, dragonic, used to getting his own way and yet soft and squishy on the inside. He went through such a journey during Lord’s Fall. I loved seeing him work to live up to Pia’s expectations in more than one way. I also liked the fact that he was regretting some of the things he said/did in previous books because now he was paying the price for his arrogance. Even with all of that he was still so devoted to Pia, his empire, and the Wyr. I also loved how he organized his Games and ensured that everyone had to fight for their positions including his current Sentinels. I do wonder how he is going to distribute them and if he will ever go about providing Pia with her very own set. Dragos also has some secrets of his own and one of which gets hinted at. Very intriguing…
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: I love Pia, and especially with her being pregnant and dealing with the Peanut as well as being Dragos mate and all that is going on with the Elves, she has really grown into a strong Alpha heroine. She is still sweet and loveable, but she has also developed this harder edge. I love that she struggles so much with keeping her secret from all the Wyr, especially since it puts her in a position of being speculated and gossiped about. I love the way she puts her new security detail in place, and just how strong she has become as not only Dragos mate, but as the female Alpha of the Wyr people. I think Pia is still my favorite heroine in the series!
Lou: Pia is my favourite character out of the Elder series – and I’m not sure if it’s because she was the first heroine of the series. Pia’s character in Lord’s Fall has become more developed, because she’s had to become stronger. She’s Dragos’ mate so she has had to become strong to show the other Wyrs that follow in Dragos’ command that she’s able to deal with what it all entails. I love her journey with Peanut which shows her soft side, and she shows her strength and intelligence with the Elves in her behaviour and interactions with them.
Has: I think I fell in love with Pia’s character when she stole that penny from the first book and left the ‘I’m sorry’ note. She’s definitely found her feet as Dragos’ mate and finding her place by his side as an equal partner. I also liked how her relationship with her guards developed in the story, especially with Eva the wyr who becomes her bodyguard. Oh, I loved them butting heads and their resentful snarkfest in the beginning of the book to developing respect and even affection towards the of the story. It really showed that Pia, who may not be the most powerful or aggressive wyr, holds her own and she does use common sense and knows her limitations. Pia is a fantastic heroine, and I am definitely hopeful and looking forward to more of her in future books. I can’t get enough of both her and Dragos as a couple!
E: Pia is a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing her again and the fact that she would flex her muscles when needed. She did a great job of first gaining the respect of her guards and then continuing to get their willing support. She also used the same mixture of charm, irreverence, and determination that won Dragos over to work on accomplishing her mission even when things got ugly. I also adored her interactions with Peanut *melts my heart* and everything she did to protect him. Despite the fact that Pia isn’t a traditional warrior Wyr she also doesn’t shy away from fighting for what she values and loves. I can’t wait to find out what she deals with next as she continues to grow into her role as Dragos’ mate.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: There are so many favorite scenes to choose from, but I think the one that stands out to me the most is when Pia shares a dream with her little Peanut. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant, and the idea of being able to see my own little man in a dream, talk to him, and be able to bond on such a deep level really resonates with me at this moment in my life, but I couldn’t get through that moment without tears in my eyes. I loved so much about that moment, as it was so obviously special for Pia.
Lou: I think my favourite scene has to be the end with Peanut, which was super fun and lovely to read. Like Minn said above, to see her baby hero in her dreams was very sweet and added vulnerability to the story that I thought was missing throughout the rest of the story.
Has: That is my favourite scene too! In a lot of ways it felt like a little vignette/story which really topped the book for me. It was a fun, emotional and sweet scene – and I loved how Peanut interacted with Pia! I think this may have become one of my favourite scenes in the series, because it was so full of emotion and meaning and I loved the final line with Dragos. It showed how much he has gained and changed.
E: That was a wonderful scene I agree but I think for my favorite scene I am going to go with *thinks for a long time* the conversation that Pia had with Dragos when he came to find her after their disagreement. The words he used in their conversation were such a stark contrast to his usual style it showed that he actually listened and took to heart what she had been trying to tell him. To me that meant he cared so much for her and didn’t view her as one of his many possessions. It was incredibly sweet especially since the situation wasn’t one that readily lent itself to anything other than straight, short commands.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: Honestly, I don’t know that there was anything I didn’t like about the book. It was great to be back amongst the Wyr, and to see how both Dragos and Pia were doing. I loved the plot with the Elves, and while it was very brutal at times, it was also so well done.
Lou: What I didn’t like was the long separation between Dragos and Pia – it went on for far too long, and I found myself getting a little bored with the Elves. It seemed to lose excitement and sag a little. I wanted to see how Pia and Dragos have adapted, and we didn’t get a lot of page time with them together which I was dissapointed about
Has: I agree about the separation and the lack of real time between Pia and Dragos which is why I was so glad about that ending. Although they were able to meet up in their dreams, I felt some things were missing because it wasn’t real, and I did think the build-up in the first half was slightly slow. But the main plot about the elves and introduction of new story threads about the God Machines, which I hope we get to revisit in future books, made up for it despite the slightly disappointed romance reader in me.
E: I actually didn’t mind their separation. I liked seeing how Pia and Dragos had to deal with one being separated and two handling equally important issues. As a result I didn’t have anything I disliked about this book. Harrison brought in new facets of her world, its history, and even some of its legends.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
MinnChica: All in all I am so glad that Harrison went back to Dragos and Pia for this installment of the series. I think the two books with them are my favorite books from the series. I love their romance and interactions together and with all the secondary characters in their lives. I can’t wait to see what happens with the new Sentinels, and how the series continues to grow and shape over time. I think the Elder Races series continues to be one of the freshest and most unique series in the paranormal romance world. I give Lord’s Fall an A-
Lou: I’m glad to see that Rune and Dragos were reunited in this book, and to see them perhaps initiate a friendship again. That’s what I didn’t like in the previous books. The friendship of these men which had been in place for a long time disappeared when they ended up mated. I think Lord’s Fall was more of a bridge between books and somewhat of a filler. New characters are introduced, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Aryal, the harpy, who was spitting mad in this book. Overall, I enjoyed Lord’s Fall, but it’s not one of my favourites. I give it a B-.
Has: Lord’s Fall for me really cements the romance between Dragos and Pia. For me they are such wonderful and vivid characters, and they are my favourite couple in this series. And along with the vibrant and imaginative backdrop of elves, wyrs, mythical and magical beings this is definitely one of the best PNR series around. I also loved how the on-going plot threads were intertwined from previous books such as the prophecy which plays out as the main plot, but also leaves open unexpected plot threads as well as an aftermath that will probably reverberate in the next few books. But for me, the real joy in this book, is the imagination of the world-building and the growing romance between Dragos and Pia, which is a sweeping, and epic as well as passionate and tender and that is a dynamite combination for a fantastic good read! I give Lord’s Fall a B+
E: Oh this was a great installment. Things were hinted, new characters introduced, past history brought up, other history *waggles eyebrows* alluded to, typically peaceful Wyr competing to become Sentinels, and other elements of Dragos’ power were revealed. I find it amazing how much Harrison can build into her stories without overwhelming the reader, the plot or neglecting character development. Everything is so neatly entwined and builds on previous events seamlessly even as other stories have played out since Dragon Bound, the last story featuring Pia and Dragon. Like always Harrison ends Lord’s Fall and doesn’t leave me hanging with that particular installment arc but I now have so much more I want to find out about. This series is one of my favorites and always seems fresh. I give Lord’s Fall an A.(less)
Today on The Book Pushers we have a rather fun conversation about Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston for you. My special guest is rather well known on the bookosphere. You might have seen her as Mad4rombks or NovelSidekick or even Fatin. You can find her on Twitter as @mad4rombks or @novelsidekick. You can also find her at RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk or Novel Sidekick. Regardless of the name she is another passionate book person. In fact my poor wallet winces whenever I look at her Goodreads wishlist or she starts asking if I have seen… During one of our twitter exchanges we discovered that another author we really enjoy is Shelly Laurenston also known as G. A. Aiken. When the opportunity to review Bear Meets Girl came up I immediately wanted to talk about the book with someone and the first person I thought about was Fatin. To my great pleasure she agreed. Below we answered the same questions separately and we hope you enjoy.
Publisher: Kensingston Publish Date: Out today How we got this book: From the publisher
Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy—especially for a shapeshifting bear. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she — tiger who’s bringing his passion out of hibernation… Marcella Malone is a member of an elite feline protection unit, and Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she’s joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who’s got her entire species in his ruthless sights. But there’s no denying that beneath that big, burly exterior is a man who knows how to rub her in all the right ways… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: Bear meets Girl is the seventh in Ms Laurenston’s Pride series. Welcome Fatin to The Book Pushers. Thank you for joining me in this discussion *g*.
Fatin: I’m so thrilled you asked me to do this with you, thank you!
1. What is it about Ms Laurenston’s writing that draws you in and keeps you coming back for more?
Fatin: The wicked humor she puts into her books. I know when I start a new Shelly Laurenston or G.A. Aiken book that I’m in for a fun ride and I try not to read them in public because the majority of them have me giggling like crazy to the point that I get weird looks if I read them out in public. Actually, that also goes for reading them at home. The girls, especially my oldest, always ends up making a comment of “You’re laughing that much over a book?” I am looking forward to the day that she’ll take me up on my offer to see why I laugh so much when reading Shelly’s books.
E: I love the over the top characters, men and women both. Their personalities are so distinct and even when a character appears to be less openly fierce then the others their hidden depths come out. I also really enjoy how her characters and their relationships aren’t limited to their same species but still have to deal with prejudice and cultural differences. The heroines never sit back and wait to get rescued but sometimes need someone to calm their reaction slightly. Their friends are around not just as the trusty sidekick acting as a foil but you can actually see why they became friends and are still really good friends. In other words the friends are just as crazy as the primary characters. I always know that when I read something that Ms Laurenston, also writing as G. A. Aiken, has written I will start off giggling and end up in full-blown laughter. In fact when I am re-reading for the umpteenth time I will often start giggling in advance of certain scenes.
2. What were your thoughts about Marcella “Bare Knuckles” Malone when she first arrived in this series? What do you think about her now?
Fatin: I think I remember saying “ouch!!” the first time I read a scene between her and Dee-Ann. Mercy, they’re vicious in their fighting and yet there’s also a friendship in between all that physical fighting. From the start of Bear Meets Girl, Cella had me giggling off and on with the way she acted with Crush and with her family. Her loyalty to her family, team and to the Group was everything to her. She is who she is and she makes no apologies for it.
E: When Marcella first showed up I had no idea she would become a heroine. I thought she was just another example of how Dee-Ann never really got along with most people but I should have known better. Getting to see inside her mind and her struggles with her family, her daughter who well…lets just say they didn’t quite understand each other, and then her fears regarding her sports career. I never would have guessed. There was the way she handled both ‘Ric” van Holtz and ‘Bo” Novikov in their regular discussions about the management of the hockey team. The way she tormented poor Crush and yet demonstrated that she paid attention to what he wanted. Her determination to take down whomever was after her kind. Marcella ended up being extremely complex and a lot of fun to learn about.
3. What about Lou “Crush” Crushek? And his total obsession with hockey?
Fatin: I was hoping Crush would get his own story when we met him in the previous book, Big Bad Beast. He’s so by the books when it comes to his job and then he’s put together with Dez, Smith & Cella and he had no idea how to react. So funny! His obsession with hockey was hilarious. He was so standoffish at times but then when it came to hockey he was such a super-fan and I loved seeing his reaction every time Bo was around.
E: Lou was such an enigma in his earlier appearances. He never had much to say, did appear to get along with McDermont aka Dez but also seemed to be just one of many. I loved his hockey obsession because it brought so much depth to his character. One of the many scenes that made me laugh was when he got to meet a few of his hockey heroes in person. I have come to the conclusion that, so far, bears appear to be the most stable of all the guys. Umm *remembers other bears* or maybe they are just harder to rile up. Crush was the perfect balance for Marcella with his absolute horror of her to begin with and then later how he finagled to get her to see she had a lot more then just being “Bare Knuckles”.
4. What did you think about the villain(s)? Do you think they got what was coming to them?
Fatin: They were so cold-blooded that yes, they did get what was coming to them and I’m slightly bloodthirsty that I wanted it to be worse. See? Bloodthirsty. Heh.
E: There were three different types of villains. The ones that enjoyed hunting Shifters, the mastermind behind that particular organization, and then those directly targeting Crush and Marcella due to her involvement with him. The first group I think directly gets what is coming whenever they get caught. The third group also had a less then pleasant ending. I will admit I was glad Crush didn’t have to do something I think he would have regretted for the rest of his life. As for the mastermind…well you will just have to see. *evil grin*
5. How about the inclusion of the supporting cast, both those new to the series and old friends?
Fatin: I loved seeing all the previous characters in the story. This series is just so fun to read. I’m hoping Cella’s BBF Jai will have her own story in the future.
E: I really enjoy seeing throughout this series how characters I have met in previous books are currently doing. I think it adds to Ms Laurenston’s world. Watching them stay true to their previously established personalities while continuing to deal with the ever-changing situations is always fun. I think it also supports how characters with a cameo appearance in an earlier book have their starring role in a later book. With Ms Laurenston continuously introducing new characters the series stays fresh. I also get to wonder about who I think might be the next to have their story told.
6. What did you think about Crush and Bare Knuckles together?
Fatin: They were perfect. He needed someone like Cella in his life to shake it up some. I absolutely loved how she told him she loved him. That was just…so Cella. Anything different would have just felt very off in that scene, you know?
E: I enjoyed their personality differences and think that each one provided something the other needed. They seemed to fit the saying that “opposites attract” in a very good way. Crush needed some excitement and focus in his life outside of his job. Marcella needed someone who saw her as more then a hockey player and bare knuckles fighter. Together they provided me with a lot of laughs.
7. What was your favorite scene or quote?
Fatin: There were so many. The first scene when they wake up in bed together. The scene where Crush finds out who Cella is on the hockey team. The scenes with Blayne and Crush, how he didn’t know how to handle her. His gushing super-fan moments with the team and Cella’s father. Oh, and the scenes where Cella pretended that her daughter was too young to care for herself and Crush thought she was the worst mom ever. Those had me giggling.
E: I think my favorite scene is when Crush was panicking about his hair cut and ends up meeting Blayne who drags him to Gwen who cuts his hair. I thought that scene totally captured all three of their personalities.
8. Any other thoughts on Bear Meets Girl?
Fatin: I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series. Although Bo and Blayne’s book is still my favorite of the whole series, Crush and Cella are now in the #2 spot for me.
E: With Bear Meets Girl I think Ms Laurenston went back to the humor and depth of characterization that I found sadly missing in Big Bad Beast. The complexity of her plot threads keeps growing as hockey, various secret enforcement groups, humans, and different species politics are all involved in taking what appears to be very simple and adding several different layers between the good guys and the bad guys. Sometimes it seems as if different enforcement organizations were making things worse because none of them were willing to work together. I was caught up wondering who was going to get to the mastermind first and what was Crush going to do about his own personal threat as things continued to escalate. And umm the smexy times were really hawt!
9. What do you think is going to happen to the Bear Protection Council (BPC) that keeps turning up?
Fatin: I don’t even know now that the head of it is no longer in charge. Will be interested to see who will take over.
E: I don’t think they are going to completely go away but I think we might see some potentially messy politics amongst the bears as they decide who is going take it over and what role they will play in the overall shifter community.
10. Who would you like to see next?
Fatin: At first, since I’ve read this whole series, I was hoping Hannah or Abby would get their story. Probably Hannah before Abby but now? Meeting Sophie and seeing that little bit of Mikey Callahan, I’m actually interested in those two characters more. What makes Sophie who she is?
E: I am torn between Hannah, the oldest of the hybrids, rescued by Blayne in Beast Behaving Badly and Sophie, the poor full human, who got involved because she rescued a shifter who was escaping from the clutches of the hunters.